In last week’s message, I talked about how we can “know the way in which we go” (Psalm 32:8). The Lord has a right road for our church and for us as individuals. I was so grateful for the many affirmations, which shared our heart and passion for the long-term health of our church. My statements were not a resignation but a statement about my commitment to shepherd the church through a leadership transition. God “knows the plans that He has for us, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give us a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11).
Though I am seeking to be faithful and fruitful as long as God allows me to be here, I believe that the church needs a younger pastor who can build a road to God’s goals. We and our entire family love Naples and hope to stay in the church and city, God willing, and help the future leader.
Christ was born “in the fullness of time” during the Pax Romana (Roman peace). The Roman Legions built and marched on a unique network of roads, beginning in 312 B.C., with the Via Appia stretching about 130 miles. By A.D. 200, they had built an estimated 53,000 miles of roads, utilizing the talents of civil engineers, surveyors, levellers, and soldiers who were forced to do manual labor.
The Romans dug down to solid rock, filled the ditch with rubble, packed it down with sand, then stones, followed by more gravel and a final layer of huge, polygonal stone blocks. Our church is full “of living stones” with an influence all over the world as we touch seasonal residents, students, viewers online, and through missions. The rocks are not rubble, but “treasure in clay jars” (2 Corinthians 4:7).
God has built layer upon layer of ministry in our roads of ministry, and like those of the Empire they are generally straight, though at times follow the contours of hills. We have adjusted to trials in the fellowship, downturns in the economy, and storms, but we are built on the Rock which “the gates of hell do not prevail against” (Matthew 16:18).
The Romans did not have access to a wheelbarrow, which the Chinese later invented. Our ministries have been simple - preaching Christ, meeting needs, and using the simple tools of the Word and friendship. The Romans built all those roads with picks, hammers, and spade, then they carved numerals in the cliffs every ten feet to record their progress.
We believe that God’s hand is on FBCN. Like the Roman roads, which outlasted the Roman Empire, we pray that we can be a blessing for years to come. “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!” (Romans 10:15).