“No Morn ever dawned more favorable than ours did; and no day was ever more clouded than the present!” –George Washington
These words were penned in a letter to James Madison, written by Washington in 1786. The then retired General Washington very likely had some sense that his days of leadership would see a new beginning. America had overcome many obstacles on its way to independence in the decade since the Declaration, but many of her challenges were only beginning to be realized. Just 3 years later, Washington would reluctantly agree to be America’s first President. Without his leadership as both a general and President, our nation would likely have turned out very differently during its beginnings.
Though on a much smaller scale, I relate to Washington’s sentiments during those transitional years. I began to have a sense more than a year ago that a change was coming into my life and ministry. I am so thankful for the new opportunities that lie ahead, but they have not come without trials and difficulties. Many people have used the word “bittersweet” to describe the closing of one chapter and the beginning of another in our lives. I’ve never been a big fan of that term, but I understand it more personally now than ever before. This new dawn of ministry and its future appear bright indeed, but circumstances and difficult transitions have added some unavoidable cloudiness to the present.
South Tulsa Baptist Church is that next chapter. There is already a significant and growing sense of peace in my spirit each time I am around our new church in any fashion. I am so excited to see where all of this is headed. My excitement is counterbalanced by an overwhelming sense of responsibility, however. I want to be a good steward with all that God has entrusted me, and I can only do that by abiding in Him.
We have already met lots of great people at STBC, and I am very excited to work with the new staff, leadership, and the entire church family. What an incredible opportunity we have to share the Good News about Jesus around the world! I am so thankful for God’s grace and for the hopeful future our church has ahead.
I am ALSO thankful for the past. I have been so blessed to serve at a healthy and thriving church for the past 8 years – First Baptist Tulsa. You truly have been my church family for nearly a decade. Deron Spoo is a shepherd and communicator par excellence. I worked among top notch staff, leaders, volunteers, and loving servants in every area. I am so grateful that you have been in my life, and I pray you will continue to be in my life.
Below are the words I shared with FBC on May 1, followed by some memorable pictures from the last weeks I spent on staff there.
It was around 8 years ago that I stood on this platform for the first time and shared my faith story with this church. I could never have imagined how special the next 8 years would be. Today is very bittersweet for me and my family, as many of you have already heard that I will be going in view of a call to South Tulsa Baptist Church next Sunday as their senior pastor. This is a hard day for me and my family, because you all have become so very dear to us.There have been times in our family when things are difficult, or we are complaining a lot, or there is just too much focusing on the negative that I will stop everything and make each person say at least one thing for which they are thankful. Since today could too easily be filled with only sad and negative emotions, I myself feel the need to practice thankfulness instead of sorrow.
First, I am thankful for my Pastor. I cannot imagine having a more genuine, talented, brilliant, and supportive pastor than Deron Spoo. Deron, I have truly never had another friend in ministry like you.
I am also thankful for our entire FBC Staff. Those who currently serve and those who have moved on. It has truly been an honor to serve with such excellent people who do their jobs with excellence in every way. You all have been examples to me and will continue to inspire me towards excellence in my own endeavors.
I am also incredibly thankful for the People of FBC, including all of you. “With slight shades of difference,” you all are among the most loving, compassionate, generous, and impressive people I have ever known. The character of this church is so loving and accepting, and I will forever be affected by it.
In particular among FBC people I am thankful for my LIFE group – Young Families in Faith. We are not as young as we were 8 years ago – but still you have been our community and some of our closest friends in Christ.
And how could I not mention my thankfulness for the Caring Centers? There is no better place at FBC where the love of God is demonstrated to each person who enters. Every moment I spent serving with you will always be a deep marker on my faith and journey in ministry.
The word that keeps coming across my lips in prayer recently is the word grace. Above anything else, I am thankful for God’s grace in these last 8 years, in these last few weeks and months, and throughout this entire process.
My favorite pastor and theologian, John Chrysostom, wrote these words to a beloved member of his church as he departed for another venture: “You have my superlative admiration. Wherever I go, I will always speak of you with joy, thankfulness, and respect. As I recall all of the events that happened to us along our journey – both good and bad – I am elated with pleasure, I leap for joy as one who has a great treasure laid up in store for him; for such is my position and feeling about them. I encourage you also to continue to rejoice at these things, to be glad, and leap for joy, and to glorify God who has counted (us) worthy to experience such things together. Let no one prevent you from the good will you have had towards the church. Remember me in your prayers, stay in contact with me constantly, for I crave this favour from your love.”