Tuesday, June 30, 2009

My Letter to IBC on the 60th Anniversary

Following is a letter I wrote to IBC for inclusion in the 60th Anniversary book back in 2006. As I ran across it today, I was reminded of how the challenges I set forth then are still valid today! So, I post here for the benefit our church members:

Dear Church Family and Friends of Immanuel,

This, like every other day we live, is the “day that the Lord has made; Let us rejoice and be glad in it” (Psalm 118:24). Today I rejoice and am glad that God has opened the door of opportunity for me to serve this wonderful church as pastor. I rejoice with you on sixty great years of history.
A church has a responsibility to cherish the memories of bygone days. These past sixty years are full of spiritual markers that have been erected to mark significant moments when God worked among us in powerful ways. We rejoice as we remember, as Paul says in Philippians 1:3-5: “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always offering prayer with joy in my every prayer for you all, in view of your participation in the gospel from the first day until now.” Yet, please notice that his statement does not end there. This reminiscence of the past is a preface to his assertion of rock-solid confidence in the power of God to accomplish His purposes in the future: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6). Sixty years ago, God began a great work in Immanuel, but He has not finished yet. This is why the writer of Ecclesiastes said, “Do not say, ‘Why is it that the former days were better than these?’ For it is not from wisdom that you ask about this” (Ecclesiastes 7:10). I do not believe that God called me here to be a curator of a museum where the focus is on the past, but rather to be a part of all that He intends to do through us in the future.
What will it take for Immanuel Baptist Church to thrive in the future? It will not depend on the charisma of the pastor, the impressiveness of the facilities, the trendiness of the music, the complexity of the programs, or the busyness of the schedule. It will depend on the wholehearted devotion of every member of this church, relying solely on the power of God, seeking only the glory of God, and serving faithfully in the giftedness God has bestowed by His grace on every one of us. There must be no spectators; we must all be participants. There is a community around us in which God deserves to hear His name praised in the mouth of every individual and under the roof of every home. He has chosen only one method to accomplish that: you and I must, by the lives we live and the words we speak, demonstrate the glory of God to them, and invite them to the Cross of Jesus Christ.

So, on this day of celebration we are faced with a tremendous challenge as well. We must appreciate the past without dwelling in it, and reach into the future without abandoning the foundation stones that were set in place by our predecessors here. May our prayer together be, “Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21). May we find all our satisfaction in Him, and may His glory be displayed through us.

Until He Comes,

Pastor Russ Reaves

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