As I laid on my back as a Junior in High School after suffering a season ending injury in my first football game, I remember opening a note from my older sister in which she quoted Deuteronomy 31:8, “And the Lord is the one who goes ahead of you. He will be with you. He will not fail you, nor forsake you. Do not fear, or be dismayed.” This comforting assurance given by Moses to Joshua who was about to lead Israel into the promised land has often encouraged my soul as it did so many years ago.

God went ahead of us in 2022. Through the unforeseen personal and ministry challenges and joys of the past year, He has been with us, not failed us, nor forsaken us.

We started 2022 in our teaching by finishing our enriching study of Matthew’s gospel in May of 2022.  Over the course of winter and spring, the focus on living ready in light of the Lord’s return fit well with the moral and economic challenges we face in our culture. As we pressed ahead into the record of Jesus’ final days on earth, culminating in the crucifixion and resurrection, we were once again encouraged by the victory we have in Christ.

During these months, the knowledge that the Lord would be present with us, and go ahead of us as the One who would not fail or forsake us, was truth to cling to as a series of life changing and ministry-impacting events took place.

We had to say goodbye to some very special ministry partners here at Creekside; the Marquardts, Schultzs, and Packers all felt called to other destinations. Personally, Marla and I faced the reality that both of our daughters were getting married within three months of each other. One daughter graduated from college, the other daughter got married, then the one who had just graduated left for Kenya for 7 weeks only to be married a few weeks after returning.  This whirlwind of events forced us to cling to the Lord’s promises.

Our study of God’s word on Sundays continued with a strategic look at some Old Testament characters whose courageous faith served to encourage us in the challenging moral and economic culture of our day. This series took us through the summer preparing the way for our next study in Ephesians which we are just now wrapping up.

The reminders of our identity in Christ in Ephesians chapters 1-3 were most encouraging and inspiring as we continued to face challenges in ministry after our wonderful administrative assistant Megan moved with her husband Brian to Waverly, Iowa and Ryan Carter relocated to Canada.

The practical admonitions about how we are to live out our identity in Christ found in Ephesians chapters 4-6 have given hope and newfound appreciation for each of our unique contributions to the body of Christ here at Creekside. One blessed contribution that we’ve seen the Lord graciously supply has been the filling of the full-time Youth Pastor position. Jesse South came on board just after Thanksgiving and is using his gifts to reach and disciple our youth.

The call to “walk worthy” and reflect our true “in-Christ” identity in our daily activity is something we will hopefully heed in 2023. These are rich truths for us to embrace and put into action in these challenging times.

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