"By the grace God has given me, I (Paul) laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, his work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man's work" (1 Corinthians 3.10-13).
Greetings from the central valley of California, an area the size of the state of Tennessee that is large enough and fertile enough to supply the agriculutral needs of the world, were it not for that one, tiny little problem: a lack of water.
It's not the physical agricultural possibilities, though, that draws me to Fresno. It's the spiritual possibilities -- the possibilities of planting and watering spiritual seed while praying for the Lord of the Harvest to do His work. That is the task that draws me to this new beginning in my ministry.
One of the repeated refrains I hear from minister's when they begin a new work is how the new beginning is unique and filled with untold possibilities. Oftentimes, minister's new to a congregation speak of the immediate future as if the growth that comes from the new beginning is altogether unique to the past of their particular congregation. While I understand the emotion and exuberance of new beginnings, I find it disingenuous for preacher's to pretend their new beginning is wholly unique.
For example, I come to Woodward Park on the heels of the ministry of four good, godly men. Stan Williams is unmatched in evangelistic zeal. John Smith is unmatched as a story-teller, engaging both the mind and the heart. Kevin Schwiger's story is incredible -- a Methodist pastor converted by Stan who left home in Ohio to come and serve at Woodward Park. And most recently, Ronney Wheeler loved and served the saints in Fresno in a way that was special to so many people.
I realize as I move into the Preaching Ministry role at Woodward Park that I stand on the shoulders of four good, godly men who long ago laid the foundation and built upon that foundation to assist Woodward Park in becoming a light to Fresno. My coming and this new beginning is simply the continuation of the good done in the past to live as light in this corner of the world.
On Sunday, I will stand and preach in a place where great men have stood and preached. And I will do so with thanksgiving in my heart for those who've paved the way. I will not try to be Stan, John, Kevin or Ronney but I will fully submit to the will of God for my ministry and use the gifts He has given me to build upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ.