In November of 1984 a broken beggar with a heart to preach preached a fill-in sermon at the Lake Highlands Church in Dallas, Texas. That sermon began a thirty three year season of leadership which included for us the roles of leader, pastor, elder, preacher and teacher. I use the pronoun us because my wife Donna is the ezer of Genesis 2:18, the strong partner who more than completes my life , as I hope I do hers. We have lived this season as one. For twenty five of those years I also practiced law full time.
Last Sunday morning we along with the elders of the Lake Highlands Church announced that this season of leadership is coming to an end. We are praying and will immediately begin working to redistribute these roles among the current and additional elders as well as among hired staff. As of today we still carry these roles and will continue to do so for a short time.
We will also begin taking applications immediately for the role of preacher-teacher. Applications are welcome from outside as well as from inside this church.
We expect that for the next few months we will be here preaching and teaching as the transition happens. Within a period of undetermined length we will no longer be in any of these roles.
Needless to say we will not disappear. We have literally hundreds of relationships in this church. We have hosted a house church for 25 years and will continue and we will continue hosting many of you in our home over weekends as we have these past years. it would be impossible for Lake Highlands to not be a church home for us.
Let me be clear about one thing-nobody has told me or pressured me to do this. So nobody should be taking any offense at this turn of events. My prayers and my journal have told me this for an extended period of time. Revelation and visitations in the night have given a clarity to me and a peace within me that is not humanly explainable. The message is clear to me. Nothing anyone else has said to the contrary has changed that conviction in us.
This is a great and honorable calling and burden. We have carried it and we have finished the race we were called to run at this church . Because God does not drive us; he calls us-he also releases us. This is the greatest relay race on earth; we continue handing the baton(the faith once for all delivered to the saints), to each other and to the next generation until He comes. This side of the Glory being revealed it is inevitable that such a day would come.
Someone said that life is passages and relationships-that reflection might be improved by declaring that life is relationships, passages, and finally relationships world without end. This is a passage in the middle of enduring covenant relationships. Too often now we do not experience an enduring marriage or church—So when it happens we are overwhelmingly grateful!
Redeemed brokenness describes us now. The brokenness we brought in-the redemption we received from the Lord Jesus in this church. On a Sunday morning in 1989 in the middle of the Church singing Holy, Holy Holy I was overcome with an awareness there was not room for a Holy God and my sin together in my heart. My sin was expelled by a greater passion in the big middle of the Spirit of God among the people of God. Since 1989 we have lived sensing we owed this church-we had a gratitude debt to pay. It can be never be repaid. It can only be gratefully acknowledged forever.
I owe the three Shepherds of the Lake Highlands church in 1984, Ron Milton, George Walker, and Oran Haseltine my very life. They nurtured and graced us knowing we were broken. Those three men are now in the great Church of the living dead before the throne of God. But my memories are of them and of those in the room in 1984, 1989,1998, 2007 and now July, 2017.
Mike King, Greg Muns and Mike Binkley are wonderful shepherds of this Church. Mike King and I go back together as elders here at least 25 years. He has the most profound understanding of the grace of God of anyone I have known in this life. It has been a wonderful time of ministering the Lord Jesus Christ and calling each other to follow Jesus in the power of the Spirit together.
We have failed a lot and are personally unworthy to the extreme. But despite the failings of all of us, disciples from this church have gone and are going out to change the world –in Christ’s name and for his sake. This has been a culture of the Lord-the Spirit’s presence-Mission- Covenant-Discipleship-Community-for a long time. I do not see that changing. I see it increasing!
The two of us are full of expectancy for the future. We will never retire. You will find us running another lap in the Great Race-opportunities abound.
For this Church at this moment it must be a moment of the unity Christ gives those who are in him. When unity happens we decrease and he increases. This is a season of prayer, listening and submitting.
This church after a long, difficult season of prayer and struggle heard God and authorized an elder in 1984 to make a call to a broken beggar sitting in a law office in Fort Worth. The voice on the other end called us to covenant- “come make this permanent. “ There had been no grasping, no campaigning, just the Call. Something like that should close the season that began that afternoon. That is the way this is supposed to work!
May it be Lord. May it be.