The following is the letter that that was sent to the church council at Calvary Union Church that clarifies my reasons for moving to a new chapter in my ministry.While it is not a complete biography of the events of this year, it is a point where we can all view that God is in the mix and needs to remain at the forefront in all things that we do.
For the last couple of months I have prayed myself to sleep each night and awakened every morning to the same, asking God to direct my steps here at Calvary. What songs should we sing in order to prepare the hearts of the people to listen to God’s word? How can I make a better impact on the lives of the people who God has placed in our family here? I have no formal education in music, I don’t even read music, so it is imperative that I am filled with His spirit and leading in order to do anything that will please Him. If I have done anything in this church that has been a benefit to the church, it has been done by His grace and not by my power. It is and has been my full intent to follow God’s leading fully.
Occasionally we all find ourselves in a position where we face a prickly difference of opinions with our peers, like when Peter returned from visiting the house of the Gentile Cornelius, his Jewish friends accused him of doing something that was unlawful. Peter had sought out and obeyed the will of God but then experienced hostility like he had never known before. But he did not lose his temper or make any counter charge. He just patiently answered their accusation. The Scriptures then tell us that when they listened to what Peter had to say, they glorified God. They were more interested in the souls of men than they were of their own honor.
We may, at times, disagree with each other. That is almost surely going to happen. There is nothing wrong with the act of disagreeing. Sometimes, disagreement, when handled in a spiritually mature way, can be very beneficial. But when disagreement is acted on improperly, contentions and divisions are very likely to be the result. We are to avoid strife that leads to divisions and contentions at all costs according to (Proverbs 20:22).
We may be accused unfairly by another believer, but this does not pave the way for disobedience from the one who feels wronged. When we have any choice or control in the matter, we need to let God intervene for us. (Proverbs 20:3)
This scripture has helped me understand so much better where I think we stand right now. When I consider the events of the last few weeks, I cannot help but relate to the events that seem to run parallel in the lives of Paul and Barnabas, faithful friends and coworkers who disagreed on where their ministry should go, and there was “contention so sharp between them, that they departed asunder from one another:” (Acts 15:39)
The Problem (v. 37-38) The personal convictions of Paul and Barnabas were the problem. Barnabas the “Son of Encouragement” was willing to give John Mark (his cousin) another chance. Remember that he had deserted them in Pamphylia. When the going got tough, Mark hit the road. We don’t really know why, but from Paul’s assessment, it probably wasn’t for health reasons. And Paul didn’t think it was wise to take a deserter with them.
Barnabas was thinking of the man (Mark), and Paul was thinking of the mission (it wasn’t a picnic). And they were both very persistent. The word in the Gr. that is used to describe this disagreement means “a severe argument based on intense difference of opinion.” Although the disagreement was intense and emotions probably ran high, it did not then, and does not now necessitate sin. It is never stated that Paul, Barnabas, or their supporters ever resorted to name-calling, character assassination, rounding up support, throwing things, etc. It does not say that they lost their cool, their head, or their temper. They probably realized that there was not clear scriptural commands regarding such a situation, and that their problem was not theological, but opinion in nature. Even though their fight was heated, and unresolved, they maintained their religion. With the influence of the Spirit, they kept their actions under control.
The Solution (v. 39) Consider the possibility of a Spirit inspired discord. The Dynamic Duo decided to part ways. They decided that, even though firm in their disagreement, Christ was more important. So again, they are careful about what they do. They don’t say things that they will regret later. They don’t compromise their personal convictions. Yet, they are gracious and humble, but convinced that with this particular disagreement, they could no longer work together.
The Results (v. 40) Before, there was one mission team that we know about. Now there are two. There used to be two missionaries, and now there are four. And they are going to pick up Timothy in the next chapter, so their will be five. Only one area could be covered at a time, and now two. Think of the exponential possibilities that exist now, rather than before. Now jump way down the road, remember that the possibility was left open for later reconciliation. Paul affirms the ministry of Barnabas in his letter to the Corinthians. He also later mentions Mark as being useful to him. 2. Rom 8:28, Gen 50:20, 1 Cor 9:6, Col 4:10, 2 Tim 4:11,
There is no situation so chaotic that God cannot from that situation, create something that is surpassingly good. He did it at the creation. He did it at the cross. He is doing it today. We must remember that God has the ability and wisdom to turn a seemingly bad situation and use it for His good and glory. So we must not begrudge suffering or difficult situations or disagreements, but we must handle them in a Christ-like fashion and leave the results to God. MWe must view these situations as opportunities for God to show Himself mighty, and always be open for reconciliation.
We are never really told who was right, but we know that God is far more concerned about His glory than over a dispute about whose going on a mission trip or how a certain ministry should be operated. God is focused on His Kingdom!
As for me, I feel no animosity toward Pastor Mike. On the contrary, I love him dearly and ask God daily that He will instill Mike with His power and with all wisdom so that he can clearly lead this church in God’s direction and timing.
I feel no animosity toward the church, and am extremely concerned that my actions, whatever they are, will negatively affect the body there.
And yet there is this “contention” between us that is so strong, that if we continue on the same road we are now travelling, we will surely do harm to the ministry here. It is from this deep concern that I considered it far better, and for the glory of the Lord and for the obvious work that He is building, that we must as did Paul and Barnabas, part ways.
I sincerely trust that someday we will be able to reflect on this time and see how the Lord had His miraculous hand on this whole situation and I pray that we will all conduct ourselves in a way that will bring honor and glory to our precious Lord. There is so much work to do in this day in which we live. We must not spend our time in contentious struggles, but rather we must ask the Lord to help us, as leaders, to respond to the Spirit’s conviction, understanding that God is bringing changes, growth and improvements to the church, individuals and its ministries, and to help us submit to the sovereign will of God in all things with Christ as the head of His church who controls all things.
Finally, it has been an honor to serve this body for all these years and I thank you all for giving me this opportunity to praise the Lord in your midst. I will deeply miss your constant fellowship and I will continue to pray that God will finish His work in you all. Please know that I leave considering you my dear brothers in Christ and I sincerely hope that you will continue to uphold me in your prayers also.
To this end I will make myself freely available to complete a seamless transition in whatever way the Council deems prudent and necessary.