Well, on the third Sunday in June Grace Covenant Church passed another milestone, our fifth anniversary. It certainly does not seem like it has been five years since we started, but by God's grace and in accordance with His eternal purpose we are still here. And we are thankful for His calling us to this work, and are thankful for the provision of His grace to empower us to do what He has called us to do.
As with any church plant there have been ups and downs, but I can truly say that even though we have experienced frustration and disappointments at times, we have never been discouraged; and that is because the Lord has been with us and has not let those times of frustration and disappointment turn into discouragement.
And I said all of that to say this, this has been the most interesting year so far, and in some sense the most daunting year. We have had more families visit this year, and not come back. We lost four families this last year that had been coming regularly, one for three years. There were different reasons that we lost them, but lose them we did; and when you are a small church, that is noticeable. However, we have had a sense of this being God's pruning of us so that not only will we bear more fruit, but that He will receive the glory for what is done.
But the good news is, as a church, we are richer spiritually now than we have ever been, more spiritually attuned, and more spiritually mature. In the final analysis, this is the purpose of the church, any and all churches, to be the instrument of God in the lives of His people (His people being His people doing what they are gifted and called to do) to bring about a deepening Christ likeness in those He has placed in each church (Ephesians 4:11-16). It is a deep and abiding joy to me as the pastor to see more of Christ in our people now than I saw in them a year ago.
This year we finished the Gospel of John, which took about three and a half years to preach through. We went through the book The Holiness of God, and are half way through Knowing God in our men's group. We, again, took six of our men to the Shepherd's Conference, and the consensus was that it was the best one our group has attended. Our ladies went through a couple of Precept studies and several attended the Gospel Coalition's Women's Conference last week. Our children continue to hear the gospel consistently during their Sunday School time, and we are counting on the Lord's Word not to return to Him void. Our people do love the Lord, and those that are here are developing and demonstrating faithfulness in their walk and service to the Lord. It is indeed a great thing to be part of.
We are going through Psalm 119 and Titus over the next few months. I have already preached out of Psalm 119 for the last couple of months, and will start the series on Titus next week. I will take a few breaks in Titus to preach on Psalm 119. In September we will be blessed to have Nigel Shailer, the Academic Dean of the Shepherd's Bible College in New Zealand, come to preach to us and to share with us what they are doing to train, equip, and evangelize in that part of the world; and we are having him come to prepare us, as a church, to support their work.
All in all, it is a great and glorious blessing to be a part of Grace Covenant Church, to be its pastor, to lead and shepherd its people. The Lord is indeed good and does good, to Him and Him alone be all glory, honor, and praise. May His name be blessed forever and ever.