Thank you Lord! As we look to Thanksgiving there are many things for which I am particularly thankful. My family and the love we share. Our church and the love that binds us together. Health. Vocation. And of course at the top of my list, and I suspect your list, is Christ. I’m thankful for His grace, His mercy, His presence, and the peace and purpose that are only found in relationship with Him. I’m also very thankful for you and the work we’ve done this year to seek God’s vision together. That work has been significant and rewarding and we should celebrate our achievement. This work has birthed our vision: “Knowing, Growing, and Going in the Love of Christ.” We also dug deep and unearthed our Core Values: We are Christ-centered, Biblical, Worshiping, Prayerful, Loving, and Servants. I remember with gratitude the many times we met this year to get us to this point. Thank you for your time, your work and the care and love that you exhibited throughout this process. It has been a labor of divine love and a challenge. I thankfully celebrate where we are and what we’ve accomplished, but I’m also thankful that this important work continues as we live into this God inspired vision. We are called to continually listen to and respond in loving obedience to the voice of our Lord. Bethel is the Lord’s work and He is the one leading. We have a unique opportunity to listen and discern the voice of God at our next Missions and Ministry Meeting on December 6th. We will likely vote on two opportunities. The question is: Are these opportunities from the Lord and is He leading us to say “Yes” to these opportunities?
The first opportunity is a request from Resurrection Anglican church. They approached us about renting our Historic Sanctuary to hold worship services on Sunday afternoons. They are planting a church in Midlothian and, while they are searching for a permanent home, they need a space to worship. They’d also like classroom space and potentially office space, during times that we aren’t using the Lord’s buildings at Bethel. The second opportunity is that we were approached by the owner of Hallsborough Tavern to see if we’d be interested in purchasing the property.
How do we know if either of these opportunities are from the Lord? There is much to say about this, more than this article permits, but I’d like to offer a couple of thoughts. My theology has been formed in large part by a book entitled “Experiencing God: Knowing and doing the will of God,” by Henry Blackaby. Blackaby notes that God speaks to us through the Holy Spirit by prayer, Scripture, other believers and the circumstances of our lives. Let me highlight two of these. Circumstances. Is it a divine circumstance, or just a coincidence, that we’ve been asked to deal with these two very unique requests in the same year that we’re seeking God’s vision for Bethel? In my ten years at Bethel, we’ve never had two big requests like this and for both of them to occur at the same time is interesting to me. What if the two requests were meant for such a time as this? There are plenty of unknowns and we are in the midst of doing our due diligence to get as many answers as possible, but is God up to something here? One of the things Blackaby points out is that God will often give us “God sized” assignments that require faith. I think these two requests qualify as “God sized.” They both require faith. This is not to say that they are both from the Lord, but they certainly could be. So, I’m asking us to pay attention to the circumstances.
In addition to paying attention to the circumstances, let us come together to “Pray Attention to the Circumstances.” Prayer, that is the second thing I’d like to highlight from Blackaby’s list of how God speaks. Our Core Values remind us that we are a prayerful people. I think it is of paramount importance for us to pray about these opportunities before we meet on December 6th. Toward that end, I’d like to invite you to attend a prayer meeting on November 15th at 6pm in our Historic Sanctuary. We’re going to use our “Sacred Circle” time that evening to pray about both of these opportunities and to seek God’s will together.
Isn’t this an exciting time for us? I’m so proud of us and the work we’ve done together and I’m grateful for each of you who make Bethel such a special place. I’m also filled with hope because I truly believe God is in the midst of speaking to us and calling us to something greater than ourselves. When God speaks, amazing and wonderful things happen. May God give us ears to hear and hearts to understand His voice as we go forward together in faith. May God bless Bethel Baptist Church and I pray each of you have a wonderful Thanksgiving.