2010 May 20
Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at 4:58PM
John Joseph

"Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!" It is easy for me to resonate with the Apostle Paul as he wrote these words to the Philippians. Paul had learned the secret of being content in all situations and he could always see the hand of God at work in his life. While I am not at the level of Paul with regard to my being content in all situations, I do believe God is teaching me more and more each day.

 

I rejoice this day at being able to finally write to you all that I have completed my doctoral program and that I have celebrated with commencement, walked to receive my diploma and knelt while Dr. Haddon Robinson placed the doctoral hood on me. It was a joyful moment I was able to share with Jody, but a moment that was truly made possible by the grace and faithful support of the good people of Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church.

 

You were the ones who had to endure the beginnings of my transitioning from written manuscript to preaching without notes. You were the ones who participated in the surveys and allowed me the freedom to pursue my thesis topic of using first-person narrative preaching to address biblical literacy in the context of worship. You supported me, prayed for me, and encouraged me. I will be forever grateful for the kindness extended over the years.

 

During the past few years, my focus has been on cultivating an environment in which every member of Graham Memorial is given an opportunity to grow and cultivate a deeper faith in Jesus Christ as Lord. I have tried to stay clear of politics (national or denominational) in an effort to focus on all God is doing here at the church. As I survey the activities that take place on our campus on a weekly basis, I am thrilled with what I see. However, it has come to my attention that there are some who think this focus is a cover for a deeper plan that moves Graham away from our Presbyterian/Reformed roots. Nothing could be further from the truth. There are no plans, no secret meetings and no efforts to take this church anywhere beyond a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ.

 

To be sure, we have made some changes at Graham, some more popular than others, but those changes had one goal —to make Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church more friendly, more inviting and more appealing to the community we are trying to reach with the gospel. My commitment to Reformed theology and Presbyterian polity (the way we conduct ourselves) remains strong. With hard decisions comes some heartache. In reviewing past decisions, it is clear that implementation could have been smoother. I regret that some have been hurt.

 

I love this church, and I love Jesus Christ, my Lord. My hope and desire is to serve you both to the best of my ability. When I first came here, I told you that a day would come when I would invariably "step on your toes." I asked then, when (not if) that happened, to remember that we are all sinners saved by grace. My hope and prayer is that we continue to cultivate a spirit of unity that sees one another’s strengths as complements to our own weaknesses, so that together we can help each other move down the road of Christian growth. If we can keep our eyes on Jesus Christ, I have no doubt that we can be victorious.

 

In that victory, we will be able to join the Apostle Paul as he proclaims, "Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice!." Philippians 4:4


For the Kingdom,
Pastor David

Article originally appeared on Graham Memorial Presbyterian Church | To Know Christ and Make Christ Known | (http://gmpc.org/).
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