Not to detract from Mother's Day, but my dear husband made this emotional announcement in church today. He says it much better than I could have, and I wanted to record it here.
To the Congregation of Lakeside Community Chapel,
The Lord has made it very clear that it is time for me and Laura to serve the Lord elsewhere. This has been an incredibly difficult decision to make. You are our family. We have served along side of you for nearly eight years, and you have become very dear to us. We love spending time with you, growing with you, sharing in your lives as you share in ours, watching your children grow, and having our children grow up as part of your family. So many of you have demonstrated the love of Christ to us, opening your homes and lives to us, helping us when we needed someone much handier than myself, volunteering to serve in the ministries I have overseen, and so much more.
This has been a wonderful place to grow in the grace of Christ. The elders have helped me in so many ways. Before coming to Lakeside, I had attended a graduate school but not a seminary. Lakeside has been a seminary where the elders have brought me along in how ministry should look. These men are my friends and have invested time and energy, helping me grow as a leader in the local church. They’ve taken the time to help me grow as a preacher as well; Pastor Steve has especially taken the time to do that. They’ve encouraged me and corrected me; they’ve defended me and confronted me when it was necessary. And there are other men that I would include in this as well. Men like Bob Carver. Men who took the time to walk with me and share their lives with a young man, helping me see through their example what my walk should be like. It is very clear that God brought us to Lakeside for our good, for conforming us into the image of His Son. And I will be ever reminded that our sovereign God is good when I think about the church family that He brought us to.
I should explain a little as to why we are leaving and where we will be going. Let me begin with why. For many years, I have had a strong desire to teach. However, my role at Lakeside does not afford me the consistent opportunity to do so. For quite some time, I have waited in hopes that the opportunity would arise where I could continue with my responsibilities and add a more constant teaching role, but that is not the role God has chosen for me here.
Along with this desire to teach, I have recently come to some different conclusions than the rest of the elders on a particular doctrinal issue. The issue involves how I interpret the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments, which impacts, among other things, how I interpret prophecy. This doesn’t change my vast agreement with the leadership of the church, but it does cover a specific area where there needs to be unity among the leaders at Lakeside. I still strongly affirm the Bible teaching of our leaders, whom I greatly respect. I will continue to recommend Lakeside to others that move into this area because I continue to believe that it is a great church. In order to preserve the unity of the church, I will not be speaking about this doctrinal issue further. If you have questions, please ask the elders.
With the combination of my desire for a consistent teaching role and this difference of doctrinal understanding, it became clear both to the elders and to myself that it is time for me to pursue other endeavors. At this time, we are planning to move to Louisville, Kentucky, so that I can attend the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary on a part-time basis, and Laura will be working in a Christian School System in Louisville. While not all the details have been decided, we anticipate making this transition to Louisville in mid to late July.
I want to make it clear that I am not leaving simply in order to gain a “higher position”. The Lord has made it clear that this opportunity to serve at Lakeside is ending, and He will provide the next opportunity in His timing. Until that time I am doing my best to be responsible with my time by seeking further growth and training.
I want you all to know that you will remain dear to me and my family. Change is almost never enjoyable. I am quite confident that I would have remained here for a very long time if the Lord hadn’t made it so clear that it was time to leave. Throughout the process, my wife and I have worked hard to remember that God is both sovereign and good and that His plans are wiser than any plans we could come up with. At the same time, I do long for the time when we will not shed a single tear of sorrow again and instead enjoy the presence of our Maker together for all eternity. Orson Wells, it is said, once spoke these words, “If you want a happy ending, that depends, of course, on where you stop your story.“ Praise God that our story will never really end and that it reaches its climax in a blissful eternity together with Him.