Last Sunday I closed a ten-year ministry with Southside Christian Church. I started as a youth minister in 1996 and became the preacher in 1997.
It was a wonderful and joy-filled ministry in which–and through which–I saw God do some amazing things.
There aren’t enough words, or blogs, to begin to tell you about all of the incredible things God did in our midst at Southside. We saw God create hope in hopeless situations, life in the face of certain death, peace where conflict reigned, and a way where no way seemed extant.
But God did one of the most amazing things at one of the most unexpected times.
I resigned a month ago and began my final sermon series.
My second to last sermon was on Jacob (Gen. 28) and the transformational experience he had at Bethel. I pointed out that–among other transformations–God transformed Jacob’s stone into a pillar of worship and a “certain place” (Gen. 28:11) into an “awesome” place (Gen. 28:17).
On that Sunday, as people arrived, they were given stones.
At the end of the sermon we asked each person to bring his/her stone up to be anointed (Jacob anointed his stone with oil transforming it into a pillar of worship) by the Elders as a symbolic representation of his/her commitment to Southside Christian Church and the Lord. (I know it sounds a little odd, but–trust me–it was an amazing experience.)
Two days later, while I was in Jacksonville for some initial meetings with my new team, the Elders at Southside were looking at 6 acres of a golf-course that had just become available.
They were offered 6.6 acres at a fair price, but . . . here’s the “God-thing” . . . as they talked to the realtor they found out that the owner wanted to sell this land to a church and then donate the rest of the golf course to the church. In all, Southside Christian Church, would get 120 acres for the price of 6.6 acres!
I’ve been a member at Southside for 12 years and for most of those years we’ve been looking for a place from which we could reach out to the community and for the past 12 years we’ve not found anything and now–two weeks after my resignation–God provides 120 acres on a major road in the heart of our mission field.
God is so good and so powerful!
In the past couple of weeks it continues to look as if this deal is going to work out.
I imagined that leaving Southside would be very difficult on both me and the congregation–which it was–but, I never dreamed that it would become a time of celebration for both me and the congregation of the power and goodness of God.
Last Saturday the Elders, staff, and I buried those oil-anointed stones in the ground on that golf course and watched–in awe–as a certain place became an awesome place.