A new year is upon us. 2013 was probably great for some, lousy for others, so-so for a bunch, and all of the above for a few or maybe most. As the year draws to a close, I can’t help but think of how much has happened and all that has changed this year. At the close of 2012, my family and I were living in the unfinished basement of my parent’s home in Missouri hoping things would go well with this small church in Washington that had asked us to come to preach and get to know us in person.
Faith Baptist Church had been on a long journey of searching for a pastor. Their current pastor was supposed to retire a few months before, but stayed on in an effort to care for the church well. There was some buzz in the air about this young guy from Texas … or Missouri … or was it Wyoming? Nobody was sure where this guy was from, but they were looking forward to meeting him nonetheless.
We came together one weekend in mid-January. Dorothy and I loved the area and the people; it was clear to us that God was drawing us here. The people of Faith Baptist apparently felt the same way because they voted a week later unanimously to call me as the lead pastor of the church.
Not every year is filled with dramatic change, but 2013 held significant change for both the church and my family. Really, it is hard to believe how much has happened in just a year. Our family moved from over 2,000 miles away to a beautiful area and a nice church family. Faith Baptist Church shared in the retirement of a long-tenured pastor and the beginning of a first time lead pastor. Transition was made with great ease to the glory of God.
Faith has seen several new families begin to make this church their home. Our family added a new face with the birth of our fourth child in July. Members of this church have taken part in the new birth of 7 spiritual births (people placing their trust in Jesus Christ). There were 4 funerals held at Faith in just the last 4 months. These have brought sobering reminders that our time on earth is short, and we do not know when our life on earth will end.
These are just a few of the many changes that have taken place in our lives over the last year. But, it is time to look forward. What would God have us do or be in 2014? As we come into a new year, let us not be dragged down by resolutions that are made out of feelings of guilt, inadequacy, or insufficient service for the kingdom of God. Instead, let us focus our lives and energies on knowing, believing in, and trusting God.
May God change our hearts. May He influence all that we do. May He help us to live in 2014. To God be the glory in all that we are and all that we do. I pray that He makes us better followers of Him; better dads, moms, brothers, and sisters; better husbands, wives, and parents; better employees and employers; better stewards of our bodies, time, money, and energy; better students; and better friends. Most of the time, we focus our efforts on doing better in one, some, or all of the above usually with little benefit. But let us allow God to develop us into the people He wants us to be and I believe we will find that we are “better” in many of those areas.
If I could sum up in one word my encouragement to you all (whoever’s reading this – yes this includes you) for how to live in 2014, it would be LIVE. Live for God. In everything you do, seek Him. Do what you do for Him. Be who you are for Him. Live out your faith sharing your faith. Indeed, you will need to lean on God when you LIVE for Him. Make living something that drives you to chase after the LORD our God, and LIVE in 2014.
Justin began serving as the pastor at Faith in February of 2013. He is passionate about people having the opportunity to hear the good news about eternal life through Jesus Christ.