My first and foremost purpose is to give glory and honor to God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
My second purpose is to spread the Good News of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus to this sin-sick and dying world.
My third purpose is to tell my story, not for my own personal aggrandizement, but to call attention to God, who has led me along this almost fifty-eight year journey. This is a story of God’s grace, not my goodness.
As I write this segment, we have just celebrated the most important event in salvation history…the birth of Jesus Christ. The Incarnation is the hinge-pin of salvation history. Without His miraculous birth, there would have been no salvation. Had Jesus Christ not come to earth, taking on our humanity, His sinless life, His substitutionary attonement, His glorious resurrection, His glorious ascention, and His finished work would not have been possible. Our salvation – being made right with God – was only possible because God came near, and became our Emmanuel – God with us.
2013 was a year from hell, but that isn’t the whole story. I will tell you more about my “year from hell” in later segments. “The rest of the story” is what is important, because I was able to celebrate the birth of our Lord in a way I haven’t celebrated it in many years. This year’s celebration of Christmas WAS the year’s high-point. I was privileged to be part of a family of believers, as we celebrated the giving of God’s Son.
Now, as I sit at my keyboard, and put my thoughts “on paper”, if you will, it is New Year’s Day…a new year, and new opportunities to serve and glorify our great and glorious Lord. Do I know what this year holds? Of course not, except that, according to the calendar, there are 364 more days for God to reveal His purposes and grand design. Will this year be better? Only God knows, but one thing I do know, is that God reigns supreme, and He will not allow me to go through anything that His grace and power won’t see me through. I don’t even know what tomorrow may bring, but I know Who holds tomorrow.
I do want to share what I consider to be the MOST significant blessing of 2013. I had moved to a different part of Florida…the Orlando area, at the end of 2012, for reasons I will explain later on. That left me without a church home, since I couldn’t just “transplant” my old church to my new location. I consider finding a new “church-home” to be one of the most important parts of moving to a new area. When a person is “out in the county”, like I am, there isn’t a church on every corner, so I Googled “Presbyterian Church Davenport”, since I am close to Davenport, Florida. There was a long list of Presbyterian churches, some fairly close-by, but the one that caught my eye was Cypress Ridge Presbyterian, which is in Winter Haven. I went to their website, and I liked what I saw. It is affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), which is the denomination I have spent most of the last twenty years in. I got directions and a map from Google-maps.
On January 20, 2013, I drove to Cypress Ridge Pres, not having any real idea what to expect. The church I had been in for the previous two years was highly-geriatric. There was no “cradle-roll”, and the list of those who had passed on was as long as my arm. It was a largely-dying church. I was pleasantly-surprised when I walked in Cypress Ridge Pres, because what I found there is a growing, vibrant church community. I was warmly-welcomed, and made to feel at home there. The congregation has a zest for worshipping the Lord. Long-gone is the typical “three dry hymns and a sermon” model found in many churches. The Lord’s Supper is observed every Sunday, which took a bit of getting-used-to for me. I have come to realize that the Lord’s Supper is a vital part of our worship, and the more “unworthy” I feel, the more I need to partake. By the end of that first service, I knew that I had come HOME, that Cypress Ridge Pres was where I belong. I was there by no less than a divine-appointment, and the reason that church had caught my eye was because it was where God wanted me to be.
I pray, that as I write, and tell my story, that you will come away with the unmistakable conclusion that God is at work in His world, and that He is worthy of all honor, glory and praise.
That is my hope, and that is my purpose.