Monday, August 20, 2007

last teaching at faith

This has been an amazing weekend, filled with both joy and sorrow. Yesterday morning I stood on the platform at Faith for the very last time as Senior Pastor.

For weeks I had been pondering the focus of teaching for that day. I believed that I had come upon the right subject. I prepared this fantastic message about being a "Hope Addict". We were going to study Romans 8 and end with these exciting words of encouragement. That's how I wanted to be remembered, as leaving a legacy of optimism. I envisioned it as an exciting day of commissioning. I would offer these words of blessing over the future of Faith Church and everything would be happy, happy, happy.

But everything changed Saturday night. After performing the wedding ceremony for Pastor Mark Potter and Jen Norris Potter (congratulations!), I went home to spending time in my normal Saturday evening rituals. This is when I spend time in prayer, go through and practice telling some of the stories, mark up my notes, and make any last minute changes.

With a highlighter in hand, about half-way through my notes, I stopped dead in my tracks. All of a sudden the thought came into my mind that this was not the right subject for the day. I tried to put the thought out of my mind, but the strong conviction began to grow that God wanted me to speak on something totally different. To be honest, this is not what I wanted to hear. It takes a LONG time for me to prepare a teaching. And this was a teaching that I was excited about. If God wanted me to do something different, why didn't he reveal that to me at the beginning of the week...rather than Saturday evening? (Perhaps it was because he didn't want me to have time to overthink it and mess up the words that he wanted to speak)

I was immediately drawn to the Sermon on the Mount by Jesus from Matthew 5-7. Instead of having my last words at Faith Church be the words of Joel, the last words from my mouth were simply to be the words of Jesus.

So that's what happened. Yesterday morning I got up on the platform, opened my Bible and began to read. At various points I would stop and comment and provide some application or clarification...but mostly it was just reading the words of Jesus. And God showed up! Half of the church stood and responded to the call for commitment. The other half of the church gathered around those who were standing in order to lay hands on and pray. It was a beautiful moment of surrender as many prayed to receive freedom from bondage. Sins were confessed and I believe many victories were won.

Then in the pattern of Matthew ch.8 we had those come forward who desired prayer for physical healing. Again we prayed for miracles and I can't wait to hear the stories of what God did in those lives.

It was not the way I had pictured my final Sunday here. But I have come to discover that God's way is always the best way. And it is such an honor to be used as his servant.