“If you want to be where God wants you to go, you’ve got to be willing to go where God leads.
Now I know this in a very personal way, and I share with you this day a very…difficult thing. I’ve never been so complexed as far as having both a sense of honor and a sense of sorrow. But as some of you have read in your First Edition Newsletter, I will be appointed as a senior pastor in June of this year; something that I did not anticipate and really was not looking for. It was one of those moments when we really do inherit the gift of the itinerant system, where we are sent as United Methodist Ministers. And so this June, I will be appointed as the senior pastor, at Bear Creek United Methodist Church. And it’s an incredible and extraordinary joy for me. It’s an incredible honor. And while I know that to be something that is in God’s work, and will, I couldn’t see it coming. It wasn’t necessarily in my plans, I mean, we’ve got things to do here. We’ve rolled up our sleeves. We’re wrestling with issues, and we’re about God’s kingdom work, but you know, I’ve learned, God doesn’t always work on my timeline, His wonders to perform. And I cannot always anticipate that He will work inside my own imagination, because He never has. And what I hear is the summons of the church in a very humbling way saying, ‘This is where we need you to serve.’
So it’s my honor to move from your midst to be a senior pastor of a 3,500 member congregation, seeking to build disciples for Jesus Christ in the Houston area. And as I go from this place, what I hope that you will say is not that I am leaving you. What my hope is that what you’ll say…is you’ll look north up on Highway 6 to Bear Creek and say, ‘That boy started at First Church.’ Because what I view this as is a very humbling honor to stand in the great line and lineage of associate pastors who have preached in this pulpit, and then moved on to senior pastor leadership positions within United Methodist Churches in the state of Texas, and in many cases, not just limited to Ft. Worth, or to Dallas, or Lover’s Lane, but places like Boston Ave.
It’s my honor to serve the church. And quite frankly, if I were to shed the robe, I will tell you, I am scared to death…because I know the expectations. And while I don’t know what the future holds, of this I am certain, I know who holds my future. His name is Yahweh. He is the God who has always led His people. And if we really say what we believe, that we serve a risen savior, and we will go wherever He leads, then how could I say anything other to the bishop than, ‘I am honored to go where I am sent.’
And when I go to Bear Creek, I will go with a part of your life in mine because I have learned so much about the value of ministry and how to lead because of the privilege that you have given me here. I know that I can’t get to where God eventually leads me until I am willing to go where He leads me one destination at a time. I didn’t know where I was first gonna be when it was in Louisville. It was a call on April the 1st when I move to Nocona, TX. It was a prize to me that I was asked to start a church, yet we were blessed to move to you here at First Methodist from a church in Paris, TX. In each place that we have been, God has held surprises.
In the midst of our departure, here is what I dream for the both of us. I dream that together, we will realize that if God can speak to and use a chicken hearted prophet in one moment, and he is by the way. He’s not all the time brave and bold. This is not some sort of Mel Gibson, Braveheart character with a face painted blue, riding then on a horse yelling, ‘They can take our FREEDOM!’ This is the kind of guy who slays hundreds of prophets of Baal and the goes and hides in a cave, and God seeks him out and says, ‘Elijah, what are you doing here?’ He sometimes, dimwitted as he steps out of the edge of the cave, and you will here in this magnificent work, the earth, the wind, the earthquake, and the fire, but God was not in the fire.
You see, Elijah is just an ordinary individual like you and me, like Jackie Robinson…like Sunny Brown. The question is this: Will you this day choose to begin the work of excavation in your own heart, in your own faith? Will you make room for God to go to work, so He can build in your heart what He wants?
It is with sadness in leaving you, but also with a sense of honor and joy that I say God has said to me through the bishop, ‘Burt, get thee hence. We’ve got kingdom building work to do.’ It’s been my joy to be with you, and I pray, that together, this is just the beginning of what God’s going to do together through us.”
We will all miss you Burt, even if we don't know it yet. Bear Creek is a lucky congregation!
Labels: itinerant system