Skip to content

Letter to Peachtree Church

February 28, 2012

                                                                                                            February 12, 2012

 

Dear beloved Peachtree family,

 

After nine wonderful years as your pastor, Katie and I believe God is leading us to step down from being pastor at Peachtree Church and enter a season of focused attention on our children. I know this will come as a shock to some of you, our dear flock, so I want to share our heart with you.

 

I hate that I must share this news via a public announcement.  I really wish Katie and I could take each of you out for a cup of coffee and share with you personally how we see God moving in our lives and celebrate and grieve with you privately.  I have thought of calling many of you personally this week to tell you the news I am sharing, but I have agonized over where to draw the line, and if I called each of you I would not be able to share as fully as I can in a personal letter to you. I hope you can understand my dilemma.

 

First of all, let me say that I count being your pastor as one of the greatest privileges and joys of my life. I love each of you with the love of Christ, and I have treasured being your undershepherd.  We are truly a family, and all of you are amazing, beautiful members of the body of Christ. I really don’t have the words to express how much I care for each of you, and any words I do write all seem to fall short.  Thus, I owe each of you a huge hug after the service.

 

Not only do we love you, we also LOVE the work of this church.  In nine years, we have baptized over 175 people, we have deeply studied about Jesus together from Genesis, Exodus, the Book of Ruth, the Song of Solomon, Nehemiah, John, Romans, James, and the Book of Revelation, among others, as well as getting God’s wisdom on such relevant topics as marriage, money, depression, relationships, salvation, and discipleship.  And we’ve just scratched the surface of what God has to teach us in His Word.

 

We have hosted about 30 large outreach events, and I estimate we’ve served over 14,000 people in our community with movie events, parade invitations, value-added intentional influence, and welcoming hearts. We have launched a church plant that is thriving after five years in Plant City, Florida; we’ve sent and encouraged missionaries around the world.  We were a force for good for those made homeless by Hurricane Katrina, and we’ve sent loving servant teams to people hurt by floods and tornadoes.  And we’ve sent out goers to carry the Gospel to Thailand, Equador, and the Ukraine. Last but not least, you have given and we have stewarded over $2 million of resources for the King. I am very pleased to report to you that the church is in the best financial position we have been in in over four years, and we met budget for the month of January and are ahead of budget so far this month. 

 

I LOVE it that we have created a place where everyone is welcome to come as you are and that we live out the grace of Jesus to everyone who comes. I love it that we together want to be the church described in Acts 2…listening to the apostle’s teaching, fellowshipping, meeting each others’ needs and seeing new people come to know the grace and love of our Savior. I love that we have made a safe place to hear the dangerous message of the Cross.

 

I love working with godly elders, a talented and loving staff, and servant-members who are the salt of the earth.  Though I believe church planting is the hardest job on earth, you have made it the most rewarding also.

 

Why then could we possibly feel led to leave this family and this work that God has so richly blessed us with? Quite simply, because leading a ministry is the second most important work in the world.

 

Our first ministry is to lead our family well. While I love being a pastor, it does have some disadvantages.  I work on Saturday and Sunday (and crash when I get home Sunday afternoon). These are the two days that Abbie and Ben are home from school, and Daddy’s usually working.

 

As well, for nine years, I continuously carry the weight of preaching, leading staff, overseeing the church’s finances, making sure payroll is met, planning outreaches, counseling and caring for the flock.  While I love aspects of each of these roles, I often come home spent and have very little emotional margin for the two most important sheep God has put under my charge: my children.

 

For about six months, we have been seeking God’s will for us very specifically as to how to make sure that we are the best parents we can be in this next most critical season of our kids’ lives.  I know of too many stories of pastors’ kids resenting the church because their dad was too busy.

 

As we have sought God’s direction, we whole-heartedly believe He has led us very specifically to make the decision I share with you today.  I want you to understand this decision with me because I believe it will give us all comfort that God is in control of this process.  He has a sovereign plan that is best for David, Katie, Abbie, Ben, Baby #3, and our future daughter in China as well as being the absolute best for every person who has made Peachtree their home.  Beyond that, I hope my explanation will cause you to agree that God is leading us to this change. And in agreeing, I hope you can support us and the church during this transition and that all our collective grieving process will be positive and short.

 

As you know, the last several years at Peachtree have been challenging from a pastor’s perspective.  We’ve had to reduce budgets and staff.  Fewer resources have demanded that I take on more and more responsibility, much like when we first planted the church.  However, the difference now is that Abbie and Ben are at ages where they need me more on their schedules than when they were younger.

 

I see Abbie soon facing the unique challenges of teen girlhood, and for her sake, I can’t afford to have little emotional margin during that season.  My Ben is craving Daddy’s time right now, and I must not (because of busy-ness) fail in my responsibility to pour love, time, and instruction into his little life during this short window of super-influence.  Remember the closing scene of Courageous? “Who will pray for and bless my children to boldly pursue whatever God calls them to do? I am their father—I will. I accept this responsibility and it is my privilege to embrace it.”

 

Courageous, the Book of Nehemiah and The Resolution for Men have had a profound impact on me, and they continue a theme God put on my heart in Israel five years ago: I must disciple my family well. I want everything I have taught you about leading your families to come from a heart of integrity. That means I must take fatherhood as serious in my life as God tells us it is. I must be a great Wallbuilder at home.

 

The importance of our next season of parenthood has been a growing concern and matter of prayer for Katie and me for a couple of years.  As we have sought God’s direction, He began to give me a desire to go back into engineering, which I had never considered since I became a pastor.  Then, in the Fall, we were completely surprised to find that God had plans for us to have Baby #3 this July.  That only highlighted our future need for time and margin for our family. We continued to pray and began to seek godly counsel from spiritual leaders who know us well and can see farther down the journey of parenting than we can.

 

In November, it was clear that we needed to lower my pay for 2012 to maintain a balanced budget.  I was certainly willing to take less, especially since the Lord provided me a second job that could provide the extra income we needed. However, this also would require more time away from my family.

 

In January, we really sensed God leading us to speak to the elders about Him releasing us from Peachtree so that we could focus on our family in the next critical season.  We had been praying when to bring them into the process, and it was now clear. To a person, the elders and their wives have been incredibly supportive, wise, and caring.  They prayed over us the night we shared our heart with them, and their agreement with us was confirmation that we were hearing from God.

 

That’s when God began moving quickly.  On Monday, January 30, I got a call from a company I had never heard of in Douglasville. After a short phone interview, I was invited to tour the plant on Wednesday. By Friday, they had offered me a job which appears to be a perfect fit for the lifestyle we believe God has been leading us toward (more time with the kids, staying here in West GA, and more emotional margin for me). 

 

By the way, I’m going to be the Director of Engineering for Scofield Company, which makes additives that give different colors, textures, and more durability to concrete for high-end, high-traffic surfaces (think floors of Wal-Mart and walkways at Disney).

 

The kicker to the story is that the plant manager is a Christian who was asking for prayer to find a very specifically qualified, people-oriented engineer for a position they needed to fill quickly. An old friend of mine I had just shared with about our situation was in the prayer meeting and said, “I may have the guy for you.”  I could tell you more details of God’s clear leading, but suffice it to say for now that Katie and I really see God’s perfect provision and timing in this offer. They would like me to start at the beginning of March.

 

Church, I must say that every time God has called us to something specific (go to seminary, plant a church, adopt a baby from China, and go back into engineering for a season to focus on our kids), it has had this same pattern and feel.  There is a long period of seeking and waiting, followed by a growing sense of confidence and certainly as God confirms it though Scripture, wise counsel, and finally circumstances.  So, honestly, Katie and I are very much at peace that we are whole-heartedly obeying God by stepping down as pastor.  What is completely different, however, is that, this time, our obeying God affects so many people.

 

As your pastor, my job, then, is to help you see His hand in this and show that when He has a plan for us (corporately), we can be sure that “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

 

So, let me share with you the plan that the elders and I have been working on together.

 

Next Sunday (February 19), I will finish our study on Nehemiah.  (It’s a good one, so don’t miss!)

The following Sunday (February 26), I will preach a farewell sermon, and we will have a reception to fellowship together afterwards.  We’ll have one service at 11:00 on February 26.

 

While that may seem like very short notice, we have gotten much input that there should be a short goodbye so that the grief process (for all of us) can stay on course instead of being stalled by me preaching several extra Sundays.

 

The elders are already lining up preachers for each week, including Brandon Cox and Casey Page. I have been and am preparing a file for the elders and new pastor to insure that all our open projects are handled well and balls are not dropped.  The staff are committed to continue leading in their areas and helping you in any ways that I normally might. The elders are already making plans to assemble a Pastoral Search Team, including adding some members of the body.  They will be keeping you informed along the way.  The entire congregation will give input regarding any candidates that are being considered.  You are in very good hands with our leadership, and I believe they are the men and women God has raised up “for such a time as this.”

 

So that we can all properly grieve the ending of a wonderful season and so that a new pastor can assume authority without any hindrances, Katie and I will be finding a different church for a season, but we will definitely be back for visits and will love to continue our friendships with each of you.

 

Finally, Peachtree Church, let me say this: We will always love you! Nobody has done anything wrong. Katie and I are not burned out, discouraged, or any way unhappy.  I really believe since the foundation of the world, God had planned for us to plant Peachtree and pastor it for nine years and then take a season of rest from full-time ministry to focus on ministering to our kids during a critical time in their lives. 

 

The affirming and exciting thing about God’s Sovereignty is that this means He has also already planned for His man to lead His church for the next season and to the next level.  I cannot wait to see what God does next at Peachtree Church!  I encourage each of you to whole-heartedly trust the Good Shepherd who “determines our appointed times and the boundaries of our habitation” (Acts 17:26) to provide you with His pastor for Peachtree.  Now is the time to pull together as a family, pray diligently for the elders, search team, God’s direction and timing, and not let the enemy scatter the flock.

 

The elders and I are available for any questions you have.  Katie and I want to connect with you, and we covet your prayers. We are praying for the body, for God’s direction, and for your new pastor as well. We love you!

 

For His Glory and by His Grace,

 

Pastor Dave & Katie

Advertisements

Leading to the Bedroom Interview on CHRI Radio

January 26, 2011

Today, I was interviewed on Canadian Christian Radio.  You can hear the 8 minute interview here. I was nervous before the call, but I was very pleased with the summary of the book. Thanks to Brock Tozer  and Salem Storehouse for choosing LTB for their Wednesday Bookmark!

Protection and Provision (Part 2)

September 21, 2010

You are reading an excerpt from Chapter 2, Soul Sex: A Theology of Intimacy in Leading to the Bedroom. Find other posts at the LTB Blog.

Conversely—and this is great news!—anything that promotes marital oneness is allowed. One problem many couples have after marriage (those who waited as well as those who were promiscuous before marriage) is this: after you’re married, it’s hard to flip that switch that kept you pure (or convicted you of promiscuity[3]) before the wedding. So, what does healthy married sex look like, or put another way, what is okay in bed? Anything that brings about oneness in your marriage.

The guidelines of Christian Real Sex columnists Melissa and Louis McBurney[4] are illuminating. They advocate that married sex should be:

Exclusive – It is only for husband and wife (no others involved).

Mutual – Both partners sacrifice their own needs for what they can agree on to mutually benefit the other. Frequency, romance, and experimentation are all on the table to promote the greatest oneness. Anything that hurts, demeans, or makes either partner feel hurt or demeaned should be avoided.

Pleasurable – Anything that causes harm or pain goes against the oneness God intended.

Relational – Sex is meant to be soul-on-soul, not just skin-on-skin. All your sexual activity should be increasing your relational intimacy.

Perpetuating Genital Union – Obviously, God’s primary sexual position design is face-to-face, penis-in-vagina. All the parts just fit. This guideline simply means don’t neglect this primary position for long. It is the epitome of exclusive, mutual, pleasurable, and relational.

Other than avoiding what is forbidden and valuing these broad principles of oneness, husband and wife are completely free to enjoy the adventure, passion, discovery, eroticism, ecstasy, and beauty of sex. God says,

Eat, O friends, and drink; drink your fill, O lovers.[5]


[1] Genesis 2:22-25, Song of Solomon 1.

[2] Douglas Weiss, Sex, Men, & God: A Godly Man’s Roadmap to Sexual Success (Lake Mary, FL: Siloam, 2002), 18.

[3] Feeling guilty for past sexual sin? God is a God who forgives and casts our sin into the “depths of the sea” (Micah 7:19). Isn’t that a beautiful way of saying He doesn’t hold our sin against us? Ask God and your mate for forgiveness, and walk in freedom from the past.

[4] Unfortunately, Marriage Partnership magazine (where their column appeared) is out of print. But many of its articles and the Real Sex column live on at ChristianityToday.com. Read the full article, Christian Sex Rules, at http://www.christianitytoday.com/mp/2001/spring/4.34.html?start=1.

[5] Song of Solomon 5:1b.

Protection and Provision

September 20, 2010

Every command God gives is to protect and provide for you. He wants to make sex in marriage the best it can be to bless you and to protect you. It was designed to deepen that relationship and that relationship alone.

All the things that God has forbidden sexually are things that do not promote oneness between a married couple. This is what God designed sex for. For example, God commands us not to lust. Looking at pornography is a form of lusting. Viewing pornography is NOT helpful to your marriage. It violates your wife being your standard of beauty.[1] It puts you in danger of bonding sexually with images other than your wife.[2] This defeats God’s purpose of oneness for you and your spouse (or future spouse if you’re single). Therefore, God prohibits it to protect you. If you take the fire out of the fireplace, it’s dangerous, and you can get hurt—in fact, you can burn the whole house down.

What is Forbidden–and Why (Part 4): Science Confirms It

September 18, 2010

The more we learn, the more medical science confirms what Paul said two thousand years ago. During sex, the brain is washed with hormones. Three of them in particular were designed by God specifically to make sex a bonding experience between a married man and woman. The work of these chemicals confirm that God has designed sex as the greatest catalyst for oneness between two people committed in marriage.

Oxytocin. We’ve already mentioned oxytocin, most well-known as a substance that bonds breastfeeding mothers to their babies. It’s released during breastfeeding and it has the effect of bonding a woman with someone she touches. This is a beautiful and needed system, considering that seven-pound newborn just caused the mother the worst physical pain she’s ever had. But as oxytocin is released, all pain is forgotten, and the love between mother and child is cemented.

Oxytocin is also released when a woman is touched in a loving way, and even more during intercourse. It has a similar bonding effect toward a man when released during intimacy. Consider Drs. McIlhaney and Bush’s sobering words:

[The chemical reaction of bonding from oxytocin] is an involuntary process that cannot distinguish between a one-night stand and a lifelong soul mate. Oxytocin can cause a woman to bond to a man even during what was expected to be a short-term sexual relationship. So when that short-term relationship ends, the emotional fallout can be devastating, thanks to oxytocin.[1]

This sheds a whole new light on “the one committing sexual immorality sins against his own body,” doesn’t it?

Dopamine. Thank God for dopamine! This neurotransmitter makes you feel exhilarated when it is pumped through your brain. It works as a reward signal—you feel a rush when it’s flowing. When you take a risk, it flows to reward you for taking that risk. The kicker is that dopamine is values-neutral—you can feel that rush whether you witness for Christ or you steal a car.

Dopamine floods your brain during sex. No matter how bad things seem, you can have sex with your spouse and all is right with the world again. Comfort sex has a chemical basis—God made it that way to bless us.

But since it’s values-neutral, you feel that same rush if you have sex without the security of commitment. That’s a very dangerous place to be. Unfortunately, teens who experience premarital sex find that dopamine rush from sex an almost irresistible urge. The immoral man sins against his own body.

Vasopressin. This male hormone washes the male brain during intercourse. It causes him to feel bonded to a woman he is intimate with. God’s design is that the first act of sex on the wedding night bonds the groom to his bride in a way he’s never been bonded with another woman (“the two shall become one flesh”) and every encounter after that “till death do us part” serves to deepen that bond.

Multiple partners, and even attaching to pornography via masturbation, can weaken the ability of a man to emotionally bond with one person. McIlhaney and Bush compare it to tape that loses its stickiness when it is continually applied and removed. Vasopressin was doing its job in my college roommate’s friend. He bonded to a woman without the security of commitment.

Sexual intimacy outside God’s plan foils the marvelous chemical system God designed to bond us and bless us. With these powerful sexual hormones hard at work during each sexual encounter to bond you to your marriage partner, it’s no wonder Paul said, “let there not be even a hint of sexual immorality among you.”[2] He didn’t know the neurochemistry behind 1 Corinthians 6:18—but God did, and He led Paul to warn us:

Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body.

You are reading excerpts from Leading to the Bedroom.


[1] McIlhaney and Bush, Hooked, 45.

[2] Ephesians 5:3.

What is Forbidden–and Why (Part 3)

September 17, 2010

This is Part 3 in a series of posts excerpted from Leading to the Bedroom.  Click here to read the previous posts.

Paul provides an intriguing explanation for why God says to run from these things (see previous post). It’s in the second half of 1 Corinthians 6:18:

Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man [one committing sexual immorality][1] sins against his own body.

Porneia, Paul says, is a sin against one’s own body compared to every other sin. Not trusting God with your life, sinful money management, gluttony, drug abuse, even suicide—all have effects on the human body, but Paul says porneia is in a category all by itself. With sexual sin, there is a qualitative difference in terms of the destructiveness of its effects on your self. What is that difference?

Once I heard a minister describe marital oneness in a wedding sermon as similar to the bonding that happens when a tongue is stuck to a frozen flagpole. The two become one, and to separate them is the worst kind of pain. It’s not the most romantic image, but it illustrates Paul’s point. When you bond sexually with someone or something outside of God’s plan, you’re hurting yourself in the worst kind of way. Our bodies were designed for oneness with one other human being in marriage. Everything God forbids in the catch-all porneia are things that lead away from this oneness between a married husband and wife that God intended.

Tomorrow, we’ll read about the marvelous chemical system behind sex and how it works to bond two people together.


[1] The Greek participle here is from the verb porneuo (same root as porneia) and means “one who commits sexual immorality.” It, too, is a catch-all term designating any type of sexual sin.

What is Forbidden–and Why (Part 2)

September 16, 2010

Porneia (the Greek word translated “immorality” in this verse) is a catch-all term. It means anything that is sinful in the sexual arena. Here’s a list of things prohibited sexually in the Scriptures:

Sexual Immorality God Prohibits

Adultery – voluntary sex between a married person and someone other than his or her spouse (Ex. 20:14)

Bestiality – sex with animals (Lev. 18:23)

Bisexuality – sex with both man and woman (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:26-27)

Fornication – sexual acts outside marriage, including masturbation used as a tool for lust (Eph. 5:3; 1 Thess. 4:1-8)

Homosexuality – sex with someone of the same sex (Lev. 18:22; Rom. 1:26-27)

Incest – sex with a close relative (Lev. 18:6-18)

Lust –misdirected desire for sexual stimulation; to want what God has not given you (Ex. 20:17; Eph. 5:3-5)

Pedophilia – sexual perversion in which children are the preferred object (Gen. 2:21-25; Matt. 7:12)

Polygamy – marriage in which a spouse may have more than one mate at the same time (Gen. 2:21-25)

Pornography – viewing materials that depict erotic images or behavior to cause immoral sexual excitement (Job 31:1) This would include sexual chatting with someone other than your spouse.

Prostitution – engaging in sex for money or false worship (Deut. 23:17-18; 1 Cor. 6:18-20)

Rape – sex carried out forcefully against one’s will (Gen. 2:21-25; Matt. 7:12)

Paul provides an intriguing explanation for why God says to run from these things. It’s in the second half of 1 Corinthians 6:18:

Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man [one committing sexual immorality][1] sins against his own body.

In my next post, we’ll talk about what this verse means.  For other information, visit LeadingtotheBedroom.com.


[1] The Greek participle here is from the verb porneuo (same root as porneia) and means “one who commits sexual immorality.” It, too, is a catch-all term designating any type of sexual sin.