Largely unencumbered by the buildings and many of the trappings, systems, traditions and financial concerns we have in place now, the early Methodists were able to impact the lives of countless souls in this nation as they fanned out preaching “Scriptural Holiness” everywhere they went to everyone who would listen and all who could hear. They changed the course of history and impacted the early years of this Republic more powerfully than any other movement of God. We are the spiritual heirs to that movement, and by God’s grace, have experienced in great measure here the same kind of Fire, Power, and Glory that marked those early gatherings, camp meetings, class meetings, and church services. What we enjoy on a weekly basis at Livingston First is nothing short of a miracle…
The early Israelites learned the key while wondering in the wilderness. When God moved, they moved. When God stayed put, they stayed. Keep your eyes fixed on His glory, His fire, His pillaring presence, and allow Him to lead! While every move meant tearing down and setting back up, the people of God moved whenever the God of the people moved. That first generation lost much because they couldn’t stop complaining, but the subsequent generation entered the promise because they wouldn’t stop worshiping… They discovered the freedom of obedience. Our future and destiny rides on our willingness to do the same thing. God is calling us to move when He moves, to stay when He stays, to keep our eyes fixed on Him, and to enjoy the trip!!
Is this a not-so-subtle way of pushing for a building program or trying to “rally the troops?” No it is really not. It is my deepest conviction and the cry of my heart that we not miss God in this generation! Unwillingness to walk boldly by faith has been very costly to this congregation in the past—but it is no longer the past. In the here and now, God is calling us to walk by faith with true boldness and unbreakable unity. Will this include a new building? It well might, but that isn’t the real point—any more than a small slice of middle eastern real estate was God’s primary purpose for leading the Israelites. He was—and is—looking for a people who are willing to let Him be God because they are quite sure they are not!
Longing to regain the passion, vision, and clarity of purpose that so gripped our Methodist forefathers and mothers—just as it did the 2nd generation of Israelites—the Tennessee Annual Conference has set forth a mission statement calling all of our churches to:
Though we have used slightly different verbiage, the Holy Spirit has been leading us to do these very things as part of the renewal process He has lead us through the past 22 years, and it has greatly transformed the life of the Church. This should be both a confirmation to us and a clarion call to keep our eyes fixed on the Lord and move when He moves…! It should stand as a clear and sober reminder that God is calling us to follow Him clearly, precisely, and obediently in 2015, despite the giants, obstacles, or fears. It is now or never. It is time we discover, equip, connect, and send as if our collective life depends on it—because it really does.
As I complete my 14th year here as pastor, I continue to be profoundly grateful to God for all He has done, profoundly grateful for the people of both congregations, and profoundly excited to see where God will move us in the coming year. Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, now and forever! Amen!!