Saturday, December 29, 2018

Coming to the End of the Emmaus Road

Oh give thanks to YAHWEH, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!" (Psalm 107:1)

As I write this, iis Christmas day, 2018. I am sitting at the table while my children play in the living room with their newly opened toys. As I sit, am thinking back to December 14th, 2013. 

Almost exactly 5 five years ago, I was ordained as a minister of the gospel. One month later, I and another minister, began a newly formed, Emmaus Road Church. Our first meeting was in that very living room where my children now play. Since that first day, A lot of many people have been in that living room since thenmore than a hundred a lot of sermons have been preached, a lot of precious fellowship has been shared. Thank you Lord.

Four years ago, my partner in ministry left and I began to carry the full weight of the church, a part time job, and a family. It was hard, sometimes extremely hard, but God was faithful and would not let me quit. He graciously strengthened me, sustained me, motivated me, and gifted me. With his Spirit faithfully filling my sails I sped along, preaching, teaching, counseling, doing the work of the ministry, bounding over treacherous waves, and persevering even through the storms. Thank you Lord.

Three years ago, I was counseling and ministering to the first person who would be baptized at Emmaus Road. I thank God for the privilege to take part in His work to add to His Kingdom and join in baptizing those who came to faith at Emmaus Road. Thank you Lord.

Two years ago, we began meeting in a Lutheran church facilitySince that time, many people have come and gone. We have added to our membership, lost and said goodbye to members, and worked to set the vision for what type of church we wanted Emmaus Road to be. We grew in understanding. We grew in Spiritual stature. We began to grow into what Christ desires his bride to be, not a meeting place, but an intentional, and organic, mutually encouraging and supporting group of believers. Thank you Lord.

A year ago, as we do every new year's eve, Vivian and I planned for the future. We considered how working, pastoring, and trying to be a husband and a father was weighing on me and affecting all of us. We discussed whether or not our family would be able to maintain the demands on our personal finances and time. We discussed the costly burdens of trying to do so many things simultaneously and to do them well. I told Vivian at the time that we would wait one more year and see what God would do in 2018. We were intentional about evangelization evangelism and hoped that God would add to our number. He answered our prayer to a lesser extent than we had hoped, but He gave us the privilege of baptizing another member into His body. Thank you Lord.

Today, a year later, after prayerful reflection, find myself having to announce that Emmaus Road Church is coming to a close. These past 5 five years have been my hardest ever, and my favorite;--my happiest. I have never wanted to do anything with my life other than ministry. My life belongs to God I cannot think of anything that would make me happy, or give my life meaning, other than serving Him by making an eternal difference in the lives of His bride and those with whom I plead to unite themselves to Him. I have spent the past 5 five years doing just that. Thank you Lord. 

Emmaus Road has grown in ways that I never would have imagined. I have grown in ways I never could have imagined. From a human perspective, Emmaus Road Church has failed, but from a heavenly one, Emmaus Road has made an impact on eternity. Of course as a young pastor, one always wants to "succeed" and build a church that causes some to look at and marvel. To be honest, I still wish I could have done such a thing. But God saw fit to grow us Spiritually instead of numerically, to sanctify rather than multiply us. Thank you Lord.

The reality of God’s sovereignty allows me to understand that Emmaus Road was destined to "fail" from the start, and I am comforted by that. My role has been difficult, and I accept that. A road diverged in my life and I am grateful to have chosen the difficult path God has accomplished more than I ever could have if I would have chosen the road which leads to what men call success—what I expected success to look like. I am thankful for the past five years. I am thankful for the trials. I am thankful for the joys. I am thankful for what God has done.  The closing of Emmaus Road is not a mark of God failing but rather a sign of God completing his intentions in and through Emmaus Road as a corporate church gathering, and moving on to something else, just as a farmer completes one field and then moves on to the next. I thank God for his faithfulness to me and to members of his adoring bride which has gathered as Emmaus Road Church. Thank you Lord.

I do not know what the future holds for me personally.  Right now, I am engaged in a flurry of activity to open a restaurant like the one that I have been managing for the past five years. Emmaus Road is closing. God's kingdom is advancing. He has accomplished all he wanted to accomplish through Emmaus Road and I am grateful for the privilege to be a part of itThank you Lord.

By the time you read this, it is no longer Christmas day, 2018. By now, Emmaus Road has finished its last corporate gathering and we are each moving on to serve God at whatever place and in whatever capacity God has ordained. Only in eternity will we be able to see all that God has eternally accomplished in these past five years. Thank you Lord for doing it.

"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained." (Philippians 3:13b-1)

I would like to express a special thank you to my wife who has been so faithful through everything. I have sacrificed much over the past five years but she has sacrificed more. She's a wonderful woman and I'm thankful for her.

I would also like to thank my children who have given up much, although they are still too young to understand. Over the years, I've heard the phrase, "daddy, I wish you were around more" too many times.

I would also like to thank all the members of the Emmaus Road body. Everyone has sacrificed something to see Emmaus Road become a permanent fixture in Sugar Land. Thank you all for your sacrifices. Each of you knows what you've sacrificed, and so does God. Thank you for storing up treasure in heaven to join me in my attempt to give Sugar Land a solid gospel-centric, Christ-centric church. The Sacrifices you have made are the sacrifices of the New Covenant priesthood. Thank you.

Sugar Land still lacks a solid gospel-centric, Christ-centric church body, and I pray that perhaps God would one day raise up such a local church body to bring his sheep into the fold and to protect them from the weak, popular and contemporary theology which is unable to be of advantage to them. May the Lord be good to his sheep.

Christo et Ecclesiae

Thank you Lord. 

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