First, I have experienced personal benefit from the time. Of course, I benefitted from the extended time of rest and reflection, as well as some of the most precious family time we have ever experienced. But the real eye opener for me was experiencing a larger perspective of religion in general and Christianity in particular. I had the opportunity to worship in many different contexts and churches. The most revealing part of my experience was in New England. I have always loved New England, mostly because of the spiritual roots I feel there. I love studying and reading the Puritans. The sad reality of New England today is that although the churches can trace their historical roots to the Puritans, they are far from the Puritans theologically. Hopefully, over the next days and weeks, I will have more opportunity to share with you the specifics of what I saw and heard. I will summarize by saying this; my commitment to preach and teach the unadulterated Gospel of the Word of God is stronger than it was three months ago. Having witnessed firsthand how easily drift can occur, and we must continue to be diligent in our worship, discipleship, and witness.
Second, I want to say a brief word about Oak Crest in my absence. God has been glorified in your faithfulness. I am thankful that as far as I can tell, and from the reports I have heard, you truly lived as a body. Every part of the body is important to the health of the body. Each organ is dependent on the proper functioning of the other organs. No organ is sufficient on its own. This is the way God planned it for our physical bodies, and it is the way he planned it for the Body of Christ. I am thankful for our elders, deacons, committees, ministries, and so forth. You have not missed a beat. I truly love Oak Crest. My great desire is to die serving this church, but if that is not the Lord’s will, it is comforting to know that God has equipped us in such a way that we are not lacking any giftedness for ministry.
I want to conclude with a special word of thanks to Nathan Clardy. I am not sure any of this would have been possible without Nathan coordinating all the moving parts. We are blessed beyond measure.