Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Times They Are A-Changin’

“The times they are a-changin’”—so sang the prophet Mr. Dylan in 1964.

The ‘60s were indeed a time of change but all times are times of change. Things are always changing.

I thought about that fact while on my annual Spring Training pilgrimage to Orlando last weekend. I told my Good Wife that we had to buy a program because this was a year in which we would not know the players without one. The Braves—they are no longer America’s team but they are still ours—have made wholesale changes since last season, trading off such stars as Jason Heyward, Evan Gattis, and Justin Upton in exchange for prospects (and hopefully future stars) with names like Tyrell Jenkins, Michael Foltynewicz, and Jace Peterson. The Braves also acquired veterans Nick Markakis, Jonny Gomes, and Eric Young, Jr., all of whom they hope will plug, at least on a stop-gap basis, the significant holes created by the numerous trades.

While the Braves did make some changes on their coaching staff, highlighted by the naming of Kevin Seitzer as hitting coach, for the most part their on-field leadership remains the same, including Manager Fredi Gonzalez, who, if he can shepherd this team to a .500 or better record, will deserve serious consideration for Manager of the Year.

It’s much more common for a team to make a managerial change than for it to undergo a thorough overhaul of the roster like the Braves have done. It’s the same way with churches—while occasionally a church might experience a large turnover in members (usually due to a conflict) it is more likely that the Pastor will leave to continue his or her ministry in another place while leaving the same team behind to carry on.

That is the situation in which the First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald and I find ourselves. I am changing my direction, changing my career, changing my location, changing my lifestyle, and probably changing a bunch of other things I haven’t even begun to think about yet, all, I trust, in obedience to the call of the Lord upon my life. Meanwhile, the good members of the First Baptist family will stay here in Fitzgerald to carry on their very important life and ministry in their community. It is a time of change for them, too, as they continue to seek God’s way for them and as they seek new pastoral leadership.

I hope, pray, and trust that the coming days and years will be an exciting and adventurous time for all of us. After all, change, while it can make us anxious, is basic to life; we are meant to grow, to develop, and to mature. We are all mean to change!

I believe that the future holds great promise for all of us; I believe that the ministry to which I am called and the ministry to which First Baptist Church is called will glorify God and will bless people if we carry them out with the love of Christ—a love that is characterized by sacrificial service.

I remember every manager the Braves have had since moving to Atlanta in 1966; I remember them all from Billy Hitchcock to Fredi Gonzalez. When I hear their names I always think, “What an honor to have served as manager of the Atlanta Braves!”

My name will always be associated with my having served as the Pastor of the First Baptist Church of Fitzgerald. It has been my honor …

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