5 years – 5 Prayers of Thanksgiving for Calvary PCA

5 Years – 5 Prayers of Thanksgiving for Calvary PCA

When I first stepped into the pulpit at Calvary five-years ago this week, I could not possibly have imagined the joys, sorrows, challenges and triumphs that lie ahead.

I could not have known that my family would live in three homes, that one of my children would be enrolled in three schools in as many years, or the extent to which we would be loved by a congregation seeking and praying for God’s renewing grace in their midst.  I could not have known the names or faces that would come and go, making an indelible mark on our family and church by bringing joy through friendship and sorrow through loss.  I could not have known who would make a midnight phone call, seeking comfort in the midst of crisis, or who would pull me aside after church to express their delight at the news of a new job, new life, new relationship, or new opportunity.

I knew that pastoral ministry was a beautiful, difficult calling, but the details of what we would face together in the coming years were a mystery, just as what lies ahead for us in the future is unknown to all but God.

When the Apostle Paul was saved by Christ and called to be a missionary to the Gentiles, God showed him how much he would suffer for the sake of the Lord’s name (Acts 9:16).  Although he knew that challenges would lie ahead, he could not possibly know the shape they would take or the incredible number of gifts the Lord would give him in the churches that produce thanksgiving in his soul.  Yet, Paul’s New Testament letters are replete with prayers of thanksgiving for the way in which the Lord worked in and through the churches.

As I reflect on five years of ministry partnership at Calvary, Paul’s prayers of thanksgiving give me vocabulary for the gratitude I feel toward the Lord for this local church.  Here are five prayers of thanksgiving for five years of ministry in no particular order:

#1 – Ministry Partnership from Day One to Today:  “I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:3-6).  From the moment I walked into the doors of Calvary, Calvary has been a faithful ministry partner, knowing the call of God is not given to pastors alone, but to the local church and all who belong to Jesus by faith.  I am greatly encouraged when I make a hospital visit to find another member of the church is, or has been, there already.  I am grateful for the scores of short-term missionaries sent out by Calvary over the years and for the myriad of young and old who serve our local ministry partners together on a Saturday morning or in the middle of a busy week.  This is truly to tip of the iceberg that doesn’t account for the hospitality shown in the homes of many of our people, the meals made to show the love of Christ to those in need, the sacrifice of time, talent and treasure, given because of the love of Jesus.  Calvary is a true partner in ministry, and for that, I give thanks!

 #2 – Hunger and Thirst for God’s Word – “And we also thank God continually because, when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men, but as it actually is, the word of God, which is at work in you who believe” (1 Thessalonians 2:13).  Calvary is a congregation marked by a deep hunger and thirst for God’s Word.  Her members do not desire to have her ears tickled, but to be told the truth revealed in Scripture, even when it hurts.  Many weeks, I have been fearful as I stepped into the pulpit, knowing that I had to proclaim a difficult truth from God’s Word, and often those are Sundays when the Calvary family has expressed the greatest appreciation for the work of the Spirit through those sermons.  Calvary is a church that would rather be told a difficult truth from God’s Word than a comfortable lie, and for that, I give thanks!

#3 – Offering Comfort for Those in Distress – “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God” (2 Corinthians 1:3).  Calvary is a church that cares deeply for one another and to those whom the Lord brings into her path.  Beyond the cards of sympathy, words spoken in faith, and meals given in mercy, I have witnessed a willingness in our people to enter into the griefs of others with the comfort and compassion of Christ.  I have been blown away when Calvary members show up at a funeral hours away to encourage a brother or sister in Christ, make a meal for a new visitor experiencing difficulty, or spend hours of time with someone whose life has been turned upside down by unexpected circumstances.  My own family has been the beneficiary of Calvary’s expressions of comfort.  Calvary is a church who comforts one another, because she has experienced the comfort of Christ, and for that I give thanks!

#4 – Growing Faith in the Lord Jesus – “We always thank God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus…” (Colossians 1:3a).  Throughout our five years of ministry partnership, we have faced many challenges together that I feared could undo our church community or shake our trust in Christ.  Even in this season of ministry, as Calvary waits for the start of a long-anticipated building-renovation and expansion project, I have been amazed at the prayers of faith, the words of hope, and the expressions of trust in the sovereign care of the Lord.  This has been evidenced, not only through words, but through faithful service in the life of the body and the community in which we have been placed.  Calvary is a church anchored in faith in the Lord Jesus and His goodness toward her, and for that, I give thanks!

#5 – Love for All the Saints – “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers” (Ephesians 1:15).  I recently heard one of our former pastors describe Calvary as a “Love Church.”  I cannot think of a better way to describe our experience at Calvary than to say this is a place in which the love for and through Christ is evident.  From the first day our family stepped foot in North Carolina, Calvary has loved us well, and guest-after-guest who has visited our church has told me that they have been welcomed with open arms and loved well in this place.  I have seen love demonstrated through hospitality, prayer, acts of service, genuine concern for the welfare of others, and through innumerable other expressions.  Calvary is a church where the love of Christ is made visible, and for that, I give thanks!

Calvary, I give thanks to God for the gift you are in my life, and I pray He will continue to knit this congregation together in the unity of the Gospel for the glory of His name.  Happy fifth anniversary of our ministry partnership, and here’s to 30 more!