Last Tuesday I was privileged to share the following remarks at the beginning of the June Meeting of the Northwest Baptist Convention Executive Board Meeting:
On Monday evening we heard Dr Bill Crews announce his intention to retire on December 31, 2012 or whenever the NWBC elects a new Executive Director. Bill shared how God led him to that place that inevitably we all will face: retirement. This is not a new place for Bill. I have often kidded him by his election as our Executive Director after his retirement from Golden Gate Seminary gave me hope that one day I could retire and hold down a real job.
But now it’s time. In Deuteronomy 31 there was a definitive moment for Moses- “I am now 120 years old; I can no longer act as your leader. The LORD has told me, ‘You will not cross this Jordan.’” (Deut 31:2 HCSB). I don’s know how God spoke to Bill but after observing him for more than 30 years I have no doubt that Bill would not have announced his retirement unless God had spoken to him.
Unlike Moses’ retirement though we have no Joshua…yet. This passage reminds us of several important issues:
1. God has a Joshua for us.
2. God is going with us.
The last couple of years have been challenging as Bill has led us to reorganize our work and to make significant adjustments to our budget. We have learned new ways of advancing God’s Kingdom through these changes. In each decisions Bill and those God had placed in places of leadership moved forward with the confidence that indeed God was with them. We can move forward in that same confidence.
3. The promise of God’s presence is our only hope
The LORD is the One who will go before you. l He will be with you; He will not leave you or forsake you. Do not be afraid or discouraged.”
Holman Christian Standard Version Deut. 31:8.
As we move forward there are several issues to bear in mind:
a). We must obey God at all costs. Later in Deut 31 God speaks through Moses of the apostasy that Israel will experience.Let us pray that we as the people of God never fall into disobedience.
b). We must remain committed to the Word of God
As Southern Baptists we have recovered a fresh and unswerving commitment to the priority and primacy of God’s Word.It is worth remembering that God’s instruction to Joshua after Moses’ death revolved around His Word:
This book of instruction must not depart from your mouth; you are to recite it day and night so that you may carefully observe everything written in it. For then you will prosper and succeed in whatever you do.” Holman Christian Standard Version Joshua 1:8.
c). We must not be afraid or discouraged, or to put it positively we must encourage one another. The search committee will need the encouragement of our prayers, the officers and members of the board will need the constant encouragement of the prayers of God’s people. Warren Wiresbe, in his book, “Be Strong” wrote “When you feel like a midget taking the place of a giant you need all the encouragement God sends your way.”
We may not know who our Joshua is yet, but God does. As we prayerfully trust Him, waiting upon Him we will be led to that man God has already chosen for this assignment.
Last night Bill showed a clip from the movie, “The Lion King.” What stuck with me as I viewed that clip was the counsel Mufasa gave to Simba, his son:
You are more than what you have become.” As the Apostle Paul put it some 2,000 years ago it reads like this: “I am sure of this, that He who started a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Holman Christian Standard Version, Philippians 1:6.