As the holidays came near, I knew that my staff and myself needed a much-earned break. A time to refresh, reconnect with Jesus and our families. Christmas and New Year’s give us that end of the year time to sit back and examine our spiritual direction personally and professionally.
In December I was attending our President’s Council, Board of Education and Executive Committee at our Southern Union Office in Atlanta. I enjoy the meetings with my colleagues from each conference in the Southern Union. I always take home some good ideas from the President’s discussion that I believe make me a better president.
During the President’s Council I received a text from my brother that my Mom was in the hospital back in Michigan. She had been in and out of the hospital the last month, but my brother said this time she looked different and it appeared to be more serious. I left Atlanta for Montgomery and told Teresa we would leave for Michigan in the morning. During the night my brother texted me again, saying that Mom died. It was December 19th 2018. We left and drove to Michigan for her funeral.
I’ll share with you in this month’s President’s Post a portion of an email that I sent out to our pastors and departmental directors.
“I have been a bit distant lately due to some of the circumstances that came up over the holidays. Most of you probably know that my Mom passed away on December 19. Teresa and I drove up to Michigan to attend her funeral. We then worked on getting as much stuff out of her house and into our nieces and nephews’ homes as we could. I was able to take home a few small items that I will treasure forever. My relationship with my Mom could best be described as I was a Mamma's Boy. I’m proud of that, she was a terrific person who loved, supported and encouraged me all of my life. She always said how proud of me she was. I called her every day, I really mean every day. Sometimes just to say hi and check in on her, other times as I traveled, we would talk for an hour or more. She was always interested in what I was doing and where I was going. I will miss her interest in my life and my adventures. She had a terrific giggle that I will miss. I guarantee you there will be plenty of tears of joy on resurrection morning.
I loved her deeply with the respect that she deserved. I believe I “honored” her as the Bible says to do to our parents. When I was told she died I asked God to allow me to embrace all of the pain this loss deserved. He has done that for me. Love is risky business (ask Jesus) and to lose that person of our love is more than painful. But I wouldn’t want it any other way. She deserved how my heart feels.
My message to all of you as I walk through this part of my journey, is please tell those close to you how much you love them every day. Take your Mom, Dad, wife, husband, kids, brothers, and sisters in your arms and embrace them, telling them how much you love them and how grateful you are for everyday to have them in your life.”
Brothers - Dave and Dennis Livermore
My email to our pastors continues and I think it’s worth sharing with you. You can apply the same principles in your life that I encourage our pastors to develop.
“A New Year is upon us, we all have new plans and ideas to impact this godless society we live in. This world, country, state, and community needs Jesus! By now everyone of you have put together your plans. You have probably shared with your church boards your passion and vision for 2019. Now work the steps of fulfillment. Organization is contagious! You’ll see a renewed interest in your membership as you clarify your goals with steps that they can take with you. I know God will be blessed by our efforts! So, don’t get distracted, don’t get sidelined from your plans and goals. Allow others to lead in their areas of influence like our principals, teachers and elders. Play a supportive role but let them lead in their expertise. You lead the church to become influential in the community. You preach Christ as the only hope we have every single Sabbath. You develop yourself through your spiritual disciplines so your reputation becomes “one who walks with Jesus.”
Accomplish personal goals that you have set, maybe more bible reading, more understanding of Logos, an hour every day for prayer (please include me), intentional outreach to those in your sphere of influence, meeting unchurched people. Make this year a year of spiritual growth for you because you risked loving and serving more. Work your plans, intentionally keep them in front of you and watch how the Lord will lead you to fulfill the plans you have. This makes ministry everything you and I dreamed it could be.
We are now in the year of pastoral evangelism. The Southern Union expects all of us to do public evangelism this year. I love that goal! You know I’ve said we need to do an evangelistic series every year anyway. That is just foundation to being a Gulf States Conference pastor. So, this year as we gear up for this opportunity may God shower us with a renewed passion of presenting His Message to the public. We’ll do our part in presenting our loving Savior and leave the harvest to Jesus.”
For my President Post readers, I want to wish all of you a blessed New Year. I pray for spiritual growth and maturity for each of us. I encourage you to discover or re-discover Jesus as your personal Savior. Learn about the cross, contemplate the cross and allow yourself to be moved by His love for sinners. Because of the sacrifice of the cross, love Him more than ever. As Jesus takes your face into His Hands, recognize they are nail scarred for you.
Until next time,