As many of you know this past Sunday Dan and Courtney announced that they will be moving to Georgia to serve a church in Gainesville as the student pastor. I am excited for Dan and Courtney as they move into this new position and I believe that God has directed their steps to make this move possible. I had the opportunity to speak with the pastor in Gainesville and I think that Dan is moving to a healthy church and the church there will be served well by Dan and Courtney. The next few weeks will be important as we cherish our limited time with the Tucker’s and prepare to say goodbye.
Have you ever thought about a Biblical response to saying goodbye? I believe this is an important topic to consider and because of our current situation we have an opportunity before us to develop a good understanding of this farewell and learn some important lessons as we move forward. Saying goodbye is not easy. Because of God’s grace we have an opportunity to develop relationships and significantly grow together in community. When those relationships end or change, it is emotionally taxing. Nevertheless, in a world of change, saying goodbye often seems to be the one constant. Like many of you I have had to say a final farewell to loved ones who have passed and I will never see them on this earth again. Other significant relationships in my life have changed and they will never be the same. Walking through the process of saying goodbye reveals a lot about a persons understanding of God and the eternal hope that we should develop in this life. As difficult as it is to say goodbye, here are 3 things we must remember as we strive to honor God in this process.
God is with us: It is often difficult to say goodbye because change is occurring in our lives and we don’t like the change. The natural response to saying goodbye to someone we care about is hard and reflects our God given desire for something consistent. We find comfort in consistency.
If you are in Christ please know He is the one person in your life that will never say farewell. Hebrews 13:5 is a reminder of this great promise “Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.’” The good news of Jesus is that nothing, not even death, has the power to separate us from Christ. Romans 8:38-39 states, “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Too often we hold our earthly relationships in such high esteem that we begin seeking from those relationships the one thing that only God can offer.
God will never leave you. As you go through life and say goodbye to friends and family on this journey, make sure you use the opportunity to take comfort in the ever abiding presence of God.
God is in control: Here is another characteristic that separates the mortal from the immortal. As humans we like to take control of the events of our day. We pride ourselves in our ability to create and execute our plans. There is nothing wrong with planning but at the end of the day we must remember that God is the one who gives life to our plans. Proverbs 16:9 provides this humble reminder: “The mind of man plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps.” Saying goodbye has a way of turning our world upside down. Again, we do not like the pain that comes with change so we seek to dismiss the pain with a planned response. Our comfort should come not from an orchestrated set of plans but from a confident reminder that no matter what we experience in this life God is not caught off guard, He has a plan and He is in control. Our appropriate response is to place our hope in Him and in His timing.
God is faithful: The Bible is filled with the reminder of God’s faithfulness. If you have placed your faith in Christ, He is actively growing you in His likeness. He will continue this process in your life until the day you meet Him face to face. Philippians 1:6 states, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Regardless of the number of goodbyes you experience in this life God is actively working His image into the fabric of your life. God often uses people to encourage, support and help grow us in the faith. When we say goodbye to fellow servants and faithful ministers of the gospel, God has not abandoned His people and His work is not complete. When Dan and Courtney announced their plans for the future several in the church asked a legitimate question:
“What are we going to do now?” Make no mistake, the Tucker’s will be missed and things will never be the same. Nevertheless, by God’s grace we will disciple people of all ages in the faith, as we continue to pass the gospel to the next generation.
A few weeks ago I was talking with a friend about identifying his favorite book. Obviously this friend enjoys reading. It was easy to see from his expression that the question was very difficult because he loved reading so trying to determine a favorite book was no easy chore. His response was “trying to identify my favorite book is like trying to choose your favorite kid.” I have that same frustration when I try to determine my favorite sermon series.
I came across this passage last week and I was reminded at how often we replace obedience with ritual!
1 Samuel 15:22 Samuel said, “Has the Lord as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.
Early in my church planting years I worked into the fabric of our church the concept of a Theology of Discomfort. At the root of this concept is the notion that we all need a little discomfort in our lives to move forward in our sanctification. As you explore this rhythm of spiritual growth, you will notice that throughout the faith there are uncomfortable concepts like Christian community that brings a diverse people together for the purpose of proclaiming, celebrating and delighting in the presence of Christ.
Isaiah 26:3-4 - “The steadfast of mind You will keep in perfect peace, Because he trusts in You. Trust in the
Lord forever, For in God the Lord, we have an everlasting Rock.”
As I came across this passage I couldn’t help but think about the churches we have studied in our Sunday series out the book of Revelation called The Seven Churches. The two churches in this series that did not receive condemnation from Jesus are Smyrna and Philadelphia. Five of the seven churches received harsh words of rebuke from Jesus. At some point in their history the church collective did not maintain a steadfast mind focused on God. The discipline of a steadfast mind brings strength to our faith.
Our Pastor writes most of the blog posts we publish, however, occasionally some of our other church leadership (some staff, some volunteer) who also contribute to the New Life blog.