But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like.
Dear Bethlehem Church Family,
If one could try to put into words what happened last night or what has been happening since the Antioch sermon until now, well, I feel a bit like the scene from Aladdin with his jaw dropping to the ground. The meeting on May 20, 2012, was so amazing and so resounding that all we are left with is not the work of a man’s hands, but the work of God’s hands. Praise be to God who gets all the glory and honor!
I am not sure why I am writing this, since Jason is writing a letter for us, but I feel compelled to connect with my brothers and sisters in Christ over what the Lord has been doing for me personally and our family. This process has felt a bit like when you are pregnant with your first baby. Now everyone goes through different emotions. For me, my first pregnancy was a bit like, “Am I pregnant? Is this happening to me?” Throughout the “pregnancy” you see signs that something is growing and you see your heart changing and the excitement building and sometimes panic over the changes that are coming. But reality doesn’t really sink in until the “baby” comes home. Last night felt like the “baby coming home” for me. Oh, God, I don’t know what you are doing and why you are choosing us for this position, but your past grace and evidence gives me strength for this moment and beyond and joy in the work of YOUR hand that so lovingly is leaning into Bethlehem.
Jason and I have been fervently praying for a long time, not only for ourselves and our family, but for Pastor John and Noel and their family, the pastors and church staff, elders, and the congregation. The pivotal point for our family in this decision-making process was when the realization came that the Lord was standing on this path of Bethlehem Baptist Church. Answering the call to Bethlehem would mean more of the Lord’s presence for our family. The path was not one that we initially wanted. One day Jason stood in the kitchen and started weeping. He said, Lord, you know that I do not want this, but you seem to be leading this way. Why? It seemed as though the Lord said, “but what if you would have more of me in all of this?” It was the answer we needed and it became the watershed moment. It was like Jericho where all of our defensive walls fell down. We were able to say, “We have never wanted this (Pastoring Bethlehem), but we have always wanted that (more of God).”
Everything changed after that point. Suddenly, the path that we were on (which we loved), was now the one that seemed scarier to stay on because the Lord was moving to another. Don’t get me wrong, this path scares me. However, if this path that seems scary and big brings me closer to God, then it is the path for me. I love that this path is a path where all of our brothers and sisters at Bethlehem will walk with us. I love that we can experience and know Christ in a deeper and more meaningful way together. If this is how God chooses to bring fame to his name, then we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. For our children, this truth has been the one thing that has helped them to be joyful in God’s call for our family. In the end, they want to be closer to Christ too.
This calling is beautiful and this is how we have described it to our children. Bethlehem is not a building—Bethlehem is our brothers and sisters in Christ and we are linking arms with our siblings in Christ. This link will outlast our earthly sibling relationships and will be there for eternity. We are not viewing this call for only 5–10 years, but as a commitment that feels a bit like a marriage vow that is for better for worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish.
So our family and I, with much trembling and yet joy in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, say “YES” with all our heart, soul and mind.
My Prayer for Bethlehem:
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen (Ephesians 3:14–21).
Your sister in Christ,