The Succession Story (Part Five) – Come Thou Long Awaited Answer

“Your faithfulness continues throughout all generations…” Psalm 119:90a

As per our arrangement, the man who came to dinner contacted me on December 31, 2016. After a time of sharing, it was determined that it would be wise for him to have an extension until the first week of January.

On Friday, January 6, 2017, the man who came to dinner called me with his answer. He and his wife believed that the Lord was calling him to become the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV.

The answer had come and the answer was yes.

After years of waiting, listening, and then acting, the man who is to become the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV confirmed his calling to become our next senior pastor. The identity of the man who came to dinner is Rocky Seto along with his wife Sharla and their children, Kaylani (11), Mia (9), Troy (7) and Timothy (5).

 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

The next step was to get the affirmation of the saints through a vote of our church membership. It was decided to wait a few months before calling a meeting to vote on Rocky’s candidacy. The time table was pre-empted by a story printed in the Seattle Times.

As a result of the story and all of the questions that followed, the church membership was called together on Sunday, February, 19, 2017 to present Rocky Seto as the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV. All of the votes were cast and counted by February 26, 2017. The decision to call a senior pastor required a three quarter majority of the votes cast.

At 1:00 PM on Sunday, February 26, the votes were counted. The results were 296 yes, 4 no and 3 abstentions, which equaled an affirmative majority vote of 98.6%. I cannot remember a vote over a major decision being so decisive.

And so, the waiting was over, God’s faithfulness was revealed and we were able to rejoice and give glory to God.

God has always been so good to our church family and now He is blessing our next generation with His goodness through the calling of their senior pastor. Indeed, His faithfulness continues throughout all generations.

If you would like to read more about Rocky, there has been a follow up article in the Seattle Times that is worth reading.

We now begin the transition.

It gives us more to think and pray about…

The Succession Story (Part Four) – God’s Perfect Timing

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven”. Ecclesiastes 3:1

My successor had been identified. A window of opportunity opened up when the man who came to dinner shared with me that he was between contracts.

Was it time to approach the man who came to dinner?

I believe that it was providential that the Lord had me preach a message on Moses making excuses for not responding to God’s call on his life. I believe the message was as much for me as for anyone else.

I decided that it was time to act.

On Monday, August 8, 2016, I made a preliminary contact with the man who came to dinner to inquire about his employment situation and to set up a phone appointment for later in the week.

Then on Wednesday, August 10, 2016, at 10 pm, I asked the man who came to dinner to pray about becoming the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV after a period of transition and my subsequent retirement.

The man who came to dinner was overwhelmed but open to God’s potential call. He needed time to inform his wife and, together, pray for God’s will to be done in their lives.

My wife and I spent time with the couple during the week of August 15, 2016. We answered all the questions laid before us as best we could. It was a blessed time of sharing about a life of full-time ministry.

After much discussion and prayer, a third season of waiting began.

I informed the man who came to dinner that he could have a substantial amount of time to make his decision. We agreed to wait until the end of 2016 for an answer. We were about to enter into a four and half month period of engaging in the activity of waiting; knowing full well that “There is an appointed time for everything.”

One of things I have learned over the years is that God’s timing isn’t our timing and His plans are not our plans. His timing is perfect and His plans are seamless.

His timing always gives us lot to think and pray about…

The Succession Story (Part Three) – A Second Season of Waiting

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

My successor had been identified. The Lord is faithful and good. As shared in the two blogs, I had a condition that I would not call my successor out of his employment situation and the man who came to dinner was employed.

So a second season of waiting began.

During this season of waiting, something interesting began to happen. Whenever this man who came to dinner and I met, he wanted to talk about preaching, ministry and what it was like to be a pastor. He began teaching and preaching God’s Word as a layman more and more at different venues. He began to take seminary classes to learn theology.

The Spirit of God was doing His work of preparation. As for me, I did nothing, but pray and wait.

Then in August of 2016, the man who came to dinner requested a meeting. As he shared, I discovered that he was between contracts and that his next contract had yet to be tendered. His employment had yet to be renewed by his employer and he was technically unemployed for 2017.

Complicating matters he also had multiple offers and opportunities within his chosen career path outside of his current employment. I asked him not to make any commitments without calling me first for counsel and prayer (which was not an unusual request). He agreed.

I then sought the Lord over what I should do. I had an agonizing moment over whether or not I should inform the man who came to dinner that I believed he was to be the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV.

An agonizing moment happened on Sunday, July 26, 2016 from 9:30 AM through my time of preaching during second service. The message entitled, “Excuses, Excuses, Excuses” was about Moses giving God a host of excuses as to why he could not fulfill God’s call on his life.

I believed that the time had come to ask the man who came to dinner to consider becoming the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV, but I was afraid of not being in God’s perfect timing regarding the matter. I did not want to make an error in timing.

I spoke to our Church Moderator for counsel during the 9:30 AM hour and he gave me his blessing with the caveat that it was up to me. I had a difficult time preaching a message about Moses giving God excuses for not obeying God’s call.

It set the stage for what was about to happen.

The Succession Story (Part Two) – The Man Who Came to Dinner

“Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it.”
Psalm 37:5

A commitment to find a successor was made and placed into the hands of God. Psalm 37:5 informs us that if we commit our way to the Lord and trust Him for it… He will do it. This Psalm described the journey to find my successor… Commit, Trust and Wait for God to do it.

As a season of waiting began… It was a season of little or no activity for the first several years. There was only the awareness that a commitment to find a successor had been made.

Then, in the summer of 2014, the season of waiting took a turn. My family went on vacation in Mammoth, CA. As the Lord would have it, over sixty members of our church family were vacationing at the same time in Mammoth. We gathered together on three occasions. We had a gathering of everyone for a time of fellowship and worship. The moms had a girls’ night out at a local eatery and the men had a time together.

The men’s gathering was a BBQ steak dinner in my family’s large cabin. Over a dozen dads attended. When the last two men walked in the door for dinner, the Lord spoke to me. As one of them passed in front of me, the Lord said that “he was going to be the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV”. He was the man who came to dinner.

To say the least, I was surprised that this man who came to dinner was God’s chosen vessel to lead our church into the future. He was not a pastor and had as much experience of being a pastor as my sons-in-law with whom I was vacationing.

I told no one of this revelation for months. Then I informed three people so they could join me in prayer, one of them being my wife, Reine.

I now knew who the next senior pastor of Evergreen SGV was going to be. The first two conditions had been met. The Lord identified my successor and the discernment had been left up to me. The third condition was now in play. We could not call my successor out of their employment situation. God would have to make him available.

As it turned out, the man who came to dinner was duly employed. And so a different kind of waiting commenced.

And so, the journey continued.

It gave me a lot to think and pray about as I waited.