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Why I Am Excited about Harvest Church

I’ve been in a great mood this week—and I’m trying to figure out why. I think the sunshine has a lot to do with it. As the great philosopher John Denver said, “Sunshine on my shoulders makes me happy.” I plan on living in a very sunny place in heaven. 

But it’s more than just the weather. I am genuinely excited about the future of Harvest Church. (Side note: I ran into my 1st grade school teacher this past weekend, at the Ligonier Conference in Hamilton, Ont.  She says that she remembers me well.  When I asked her why, she said, “You were always so excited.”  I can’t help but wondering which of her gray hairs were caused by the unrestrained enthusiasm of my 6 year-old self.  Oh well, what’s done is done.) 

Well, I’m excited now as well.  I was in Orlando for two days last week. John Shaw, General Secretary of Home Missions for the OPC, asked me to speak to a group of OPC pastor’s and elders about what we’ve learned from planting churches. It was a great time to reflect on what God has done through us – and to think about things we did well and areas where we need to improve.  I’ll talk more about that some other time.  But people would come up and ask how I’m doing, and how Harvest is doing.  And I was glad to be able to say, “We’re doing well.” 

Here are some of the things that excite me about Harvest.

  • I’m excited by the new spirit of unity, peace, and joy in the congregation.  We’ve been through a rough spell, a time of testing and trial. We’ve seen dear friends and former members leave.  I’ve been through charges and walked with my dear brother Randy to the doorway to heaven.  All this has been according to God’s ordained will for me and for us – and all of it meant for our good (Romans 8:28).  I can testify that God has used the trials of this past year for my personal good.  But I’m convinced that God purposed these hardships for the good of the congregation as a whole.  “He disciplines us for our good – that we might bear the ‘fruit of righteousness” (Heb. 12:10-11).  Therefore, I believe we have solid biblical reasons for confidence that God will “make us glad for as many days as (He has) afflicted us” (Ps 90:15).  I believe, in the providence of God, that our best is yet to come.
  • I’m excited by the humility, unity of heart, and spiritual wisdom I see in the elders. They have navigated the difficult path of the past 2 years with great wisdom. The Session is currently working on some very important things: shepherding, building, staffing, church planting, intentional discipleship and ministry strategy – and are finding a wonderful unity of heart and mind as we go.  When we do disagree, there is respectful discussion and mutual submission.  It’s a joy to watch and a privilege to be a part of it. Very encouraging.
  • I’m excited about what the Lord is teaching me concerning embracing humility and repentance and prayer as the way of doing life and doing ministry. I’m not there yet – but the path is clearer than it’s been before and I’m excited about what God will teach me in the years ahead. Aren’t you glad that our Lord persists in our sanctification all the way to the end??  I am! 
  • I’m excited by the forming vision for moving forward.  The Session is continuing the conversations we started at the elder’s retreat. Please pray for us as we devote ourselves over these next 2 months to forming specific plans for moving forward in the ministry of the gospel here in West Michigan. 
  • I’m excited by seeing the Lord turn our attention, as a church, more and more ‘outward’ – to the lost in our community and around the world.  
    • A few weeks ago, a sister here at Harvest introduced me to a Vietnamese woman from the neighborhood with whom she is reading the Bible. They are already through Genesis and making progress in Leviticus.  That’s wonderful!  
    • The ESL class is continuing to grow and the volunteers are building meaningful relationships with people from all over the world for the Name of Christ. Perfect!  
    • Paige VanderWey is in Tijuana preparing to spend her life bringing the gospel to an unreached people group.  That’s tremendous!  I am praying that the Lord will use Paige to help all of us grow a missionary mindset.  It’s very exciting to think about how God could use our life and this church to impact people around the globe for Christ.
  • Several elders and pastors met with the Love and Truth counseling/discipling team a few weeks ago. What a joy to see what the Lord is doing through that ministry! I was just talking this week with someone who has taken the “Real Change” class and found it to be extremely helpful for their own growth in Christ. That’s exactly what we want the Lord to do for us and among us – transform lives by the power of His truth and grace!  There is some very exciting ministry happening through our Love and Truth team.  

Friends, I’m excited to think about what the Lord might do, by His power and for His glory, among and through us, as we continue to grow in intentional discipleship,  missional outreach, and church planting. I believe that Harvest’s best days are yet to come – and that’s very exciting. Of course, there is a lot that needs to be done as we move forward.  But all the “heavy lifting” is on the shoulders of our Lord Jesus.  He has promised that He will build His church. Praise God! We are just called to abide in Him, allow His word to abide in us, and then ask for whatever we wish – leaning on Him in expectant prayer (John 15:7).  That’s a church that will bear much fruit for the glory of God the Father.  And that’s a really exciting place to be! 

P.s. I realize that not every person reading this will share, or maybe even appreciate, my enthusiasm.  I didn’t write this to overlook your concerns or questions or fears.  But, if I’ve just described you, I would ask one thing.  Would you be willing to prayerfully ask the Lord to show you how to move forward?  We are not meant to abide in cynicism, uncertainty, or fear. We are meant to be “always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that our labor is not in vain” (1 Cor 15:58).  Has Harvest “arrived”?  Of course not.  Are there things we need to learn and change?  Absolutely.  But that’s true of every believer, isn’t it. What gives me great anticipation for our future together is that Harvest church belongs to Jesus and the Lord Himself promises to teach us and lead us in all these things, as we abide in His truth and strive, with humility and love, to follow Him. My prayer is that, as you trust in Him, you too will become newly excited about what He is doing right in here at Harvest Church!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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