Wednesday, January 11, 2006
I know that there are a lot of people that read this blog that aren't remotely connected with Grace Bible Church. So, I'm just letting you know that the next few pics deal specifically with our church. Diane so kindly provided me with pics of Ray's last Sunday here at Grace, so I thought I would share them with you.
The church gave one of the coolest going-away presents that you could think of to Ray and Lenea. Sue Davenport had all of the ladies contribute to a massive scrapbook full of pictures and memories commemorating their time here. Sue presented the book to Ray and Lenea during the morning service, prefacing the presentation with an overview of the last 7 years. Talk about a tear-jerking moment!
I have this thing for showing up early. When you're moving someone, that means that you get to move the heavy stuff, like the piano. They had several boxes out in the garage ready to go. That empty trailer that you see in the top picture was filled to overflowing by the time we were done. I feel sorry for the poor sap on the unloading crew who eagerly runs forward to open the door. The mental picture that comes to mind is that of Fibber McGee's closet.
Monday, January 09, 2006
Yesterday was the last Sunday for my pastor, Ray McCrary. Ray, Lenea, Rachelle, Tosha, and Marissa are moving to a new pastorate in the great Hoosier State, Indiana. They have accepted the position of senior pastor at the Church of the Nazarene in Centerville, IN. While I am excited for the new door of ministry that has opened for Ray, I have to tell you I hate to see him go.
Ray and I have become as close as brothers over the last year and a half as I have worked beside him as associate pastor. While we have always been close because of our familial relationship, our friendship has deepened as I have ministered with him at Grace Bible Church.
You learn a lot about a person behind the scenes. I think that anyone who is involved in ministry, especially a ministry that involves being in front of a congregation, would admit that there are those times when you go to the platform masking your personal life with a smile, intentionally choosing to focus on the needs and hurts of others instead of dwelling on yours. You pour your life out in ministry, but rarely have the chance to step back and allow others to minister to you. I've seen different individuals in ministry respond in a variety of ways to their own problems and burdens. Unfortunately, I've witnessed many ministry casualties over the years.
I've watched Ray walk through what has been a painful and difficult valley to traverse and observed his reactions and heard his words. I've learned that the true character of a man isn't measured by what is said as much as by what isn't said. Ray has handled everything that has happened with class, dignity, restraint, and grace. I've been privileged to walk beside him and prop him up, many times after he was wounded deeply, but yet never hear him say an acrimonious word about anyone. I have seen holiness lived.
Many people like to debate and preach about the theological implications to the doctrine of holiness. However, I learn much more from a life lived holy. Ray has not only preached entire sanctification, he has lived it.
While there have been a lot of battles we've fought together, we have also witnessed God move in extraordinary ways over the last few months. There have been plenty of mountaintops! God has blessed Ray's ministry in so many ways. You can look around our church and witness the lives changed through his ministry, the people touched by his compassion, and the progress we've made in the seven and a half years that he has been here.
I have to admit I'm going to miss his corny humor, our sometimes inane banter, and our meals at Red Robin. He's been the ultimate leader and teammate, valuing what I bring to the table while at the same time pushing me to take it to the next level. Hopefully, I've been able to be the same to him.
I'm even going to miss Lenea (you never thought you would hear me say that did you)! Lenea and I love to "dis" each other. She is way too easy to pick on, let me tell you! She has contributed greatly to our worship program with her piano and vocal artistry. I've worked with many accompanists when leading worship, and I'll put Lenea up there with anyone. God has blessed her with a gift for ministry.
And, Marissa. Who can ever forget Marissa? What a girl! Trey is taking this one pretty hard. He can't understand why Marissa has to move. "But, Dad, she's my friend! She can't go!" We'll miss you girl.
Of course, our teen program has taken a major blow with the departure of Chelle and Tosh. They have been leaders and vital to our youth ministry. It's been awesome to witness what God has done for them over the last few months. I've been privileged to be a part of their lives. I'm looking forward, though, to what God is going to do through their lives.
God puts people in our lives for a purpose, and I know that in my life, McCrarys were put there to encourage me in my walk with God, to prepare me for a greater ministry, and to provide a deep friendship that will be for a lifetime. I wish them the best in their new pastorate. Our loss is Centerville's gain.