15000579_1362173577136382_1800214030222871918_oThis past weekend, we celebrated eight years as pastor and people at the Shiloh Church in Jacksonville, Florida.

In the spring of 2008, I was invited to fill the pulpit one Sunday. I did not view that Sunday as any more than another date on my list of speaking engagements for the year. Three months later, the Shiloh Church overwhelming voted to extend a call to me to be its next pastor. On the second Sunday in November, I was installed as the new pastor of the church.

Boy, how time flies!

On one hand, it does not seem like it has been eight years already. It feels like only yesterday when my family and I transplanted from Los Angeles.

At the same time, it seems like it has been longer than eight years. In a good sense. The Lord has placed this Jacksonville congregation in my heart. And I believe the Lord has placed me in their hearts, as well.

Eight years in, there is still much work today. We are not a perfect church. No church is. But we are a church headed in the right direction. And I am excited to see what the Lord has in store for us down the road.

As we press on in the disciple-making mission the Lord has entrusted to our stewardship, we paused this week to give thanks to the Lord for all that he has done in us, through us, and among us. And, indeed, there is much to be thankful for.

15122873_10210937220526865_5124135708042069183_oI am extremely grateful for the love, kindness, and generosity the Shiloh Church pours out to my family. There is a sense in which we will always be Californians. But Jacksonville has truly become our home. And it primarily does not have anything to do with the city itself. It is ultimately about how the congregation has lovingly put their arms around us.

The night I accepted I accepted the congregation’s call, I said that I believe the call to lead Shiloh would affirm the call the Lord has placed on my life, not contradict it. This was my biggest fear, among many fears I had about my new assignment. My fear was misguided. The Shiloh Church has not only given e freedom to pursue me sense of calling, it has fully embraced my calling as theirs, as well!

After I landed in Jacksonville, friends and colleagues asked me what I liked about leading Shiloh. My original answer has not changed in eight years. I am most blessed to pastor a church where preaching is “in season” (2 Timothy 4:2). This is a huge blessing that I do not take for granted. When a congregation is eager to learn the word and willing to submit to biblical truth, anything is possible for the gospel!

As I stood before the congregation this past Sunday, I did not know what to say. And when I don’t know what to say, I usually end up saying way more than I should. But I tried to succinctly state my heart-felt gratitude: That you, Shiloh, for letting me be your pastor!

For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus Christ at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy. – 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20