The past few weeks have been filled with the Lord's goodness. I feel like the Lord has indulged us in rich and surprising ways.
Each of the last two Sundays we've celebrated baptism with two new Christians. There is the young lady from a Hindu background who grew up trying to blend Christianity and Hinduism. Fencing the table at a communion service awakened her and she saw her need to follow Christ alone. There are the two persons from Cayman who grew up in a house church movement, and both, in their own ways, sought solace and refuge in themselves. The Lord has brought them to Himself through the reading and preaching of the word. And there is the young woman from Honduras, terrified during a turbulent fright and made to admit that if the plane should crash she would not be ready to meet her Maker. She began to listen to the word preached with eternal interest, and the Lord has given her eternal life. Sweet times of testimony. These have overcome the Accuser "by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony" and I pray "the [would] not love their lives so much as to shrink from death" (Rev. 12:11).
There is the congregation-wide elation that comes from having paid off the church's remaining debt. It's been over a decade and over $6 million C.I. (about $7.2 million U.S.), about 3-4 campaigns and drives to eliminate the debt, a lot of prayer, a lot of pennies and bills, a lot of God's providential blessings, and now we're a debt free church! Praise the Lord! And I trust we're only just beginning to realize the many freedoms that come with being debt-free.
The public praises of the people has been rich beyond compare. We're rejoicing before the Lord in music and song with such sweetness and zeal. Could hardly preach a couple weeks back after a wonderful medley arranged by our pastor of worship.
This past weekend a dear sister had her membership removed from this church and joined the perfect church in glory. She was known for her joy and her exuberant praise for the Lord. it was a surprise to us all, a sober and yet sweet reminder of how fleeting this life is and how preciously is the life to come with our Christ and King. Yesterday was almost a memorial service as we sang so many songs that would have had our sister Debbi singing with arms outstretched and face beaming. Now her face beams in the glow of her Master who loves her best. "I long to be where the praise is never ending" was her theme and our song yesterday. We were reminded of such sweet hope amidst the suffering and surprising losses of this life. And, I think, many of us longed more for glory yesterday.
And how sweet it is when brothers dwell together in unity. We've experienced now a long season of unity in the congregation. Relationships are good and deepening. Communication and trust are flowing well in so many directions. Membership is meaningful, warm, friendly, and joyful. In our new members' class last weekend, several of the folks mentioned that the witness of the congregation in its friendly, eager hospitality overwhelmed them when they came. Amen! Our hearts and our bodies are increasingly in the same place, and our hearts increasingly open to others.
We've seen the Lord's healing mercies and power in the lives of several saints. There is the ready reception of the word as we focus on parenting in Proverbs 1-9. There are the constant emails of encouragement shared between so many. Better attendance at our Sunday evening service and members' meetings of late. Really great times hanging out with couples from the church and hospitality at home.
The Lord has been incredibly kind to us, indulging us in His love, and leading us by His Spirit and word. What an indescribable joy it is to pastor these sweet saints called First Baptist Church.
Praying you know the joys of being with God's people in your local assembly.
Grace and peace in Him whose blood has made us new and holy.
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