• Will Spink
    Senior Pastor
  • Rita Clardy
    Executive Assistant
  • Ron Clegg
    Assistant Pastor, Discipleship
  • Peter Render
    Assistant Pastor, Youth/Families
  • Winnie Winford
    High-Life Assistant Director
  • Kim Delchamps
    Administrative Assistant
    High-Life/Children
  • Niña Banta Cash
    Director of Children's Ministry
  • Sarah Niemitz
    Director of Community Development/Assimilation
  • Janice Crowson
    Director of Facilities/Office
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Pastor’s Note


Living Into The Future

Last month in this column I wrote about “Living out of the Past”—not being stuck in the past, but at the same time not forgetting the character of God and the lessons learned from previous chapters of our story. It’s vital that we look back and remember the failings in our lives and the faithfulness of our God so that we live the present chapter of our story in light of those realities.

It’s equally vital, though, that we live into the future. God calls his people to remember, but he also calls them to look forward and trust him. You’ll notice in this issue of BRANCHES that it’s the time of year where graduates, mission teams, and VBS diectors look forward to somewhat uncertain futures. Some plans have been made, but no one knows for sure if life will unfold as planned (by us). Come to think of it, you don’t have to be graduating or planning an international trip for that last sentence to be true for you.

That reality reminds me of an old adage: “I don’t know what the future holds, but I know Who holds the future.” If you’re able to get past the cliché, the adage does remind us of two important truths: 1) We (even the type A planners and control freaks among us) don’t know exactly what lies ahead for us, but 2) God does. 

And the Bible says that’s good news because God is both sovereign and good! Hebrews speaks of the character and promises of God as so unchanging and certain that they function as anchors for us today (Hebrews 6:19). They ground us and give us confidence, security, and stability in a world where those are in short supply. Because of God’s sure promises, we look forward to an eternal inheritance with joy rather than looking back to forfeited earthly treasure with regret (Hebrews 11:13-16, 25-26).

In Philippians 3, Paul uses the image of a runner who must always look forward if he wants to win the race. He says it won’t help him to look back at his failures or his successes in the past if he wants to reach the finish line; rather, he must strain forward with his eyes fixed on the prize at the end of the race. In other words, we must not allow past sins or good performances to define us; rather, we “fix our minds on things above” (Colossians 3:2) and live in the joy and freedom of children of God—children who are promised that they will one day receive the full inheritance that the greatest treasures on earth could not match—and this not because of their successes or failures but because they are defined as God’s beloved children.

Have you allowed the future God has promised and secured for you to speak into your present recently? Is it shaping your priorities, your anxieties, and your plans?

Living into the future is important for churches, too. It means that the chapter of our story that defines us can’t be one where we succeeded in growing by leaps and bounds or building a new building. Neither can our defining chapter be one where we failed in executing a worship service or handling conflict appropriately. No, Jesus says to know who we are today, we must look forward to the wedding feast of the Lamb, where we are dressed gloriously once and for all as the beloved bride of Christ. If we keep our eyes fixed there—and on the cross where that identity was secured—we will love sacrificially, admit failure quickly, risk embarrassment easily, and worship passionately as a beloved bride.

There are a lot of things I don’t know about Southwood’s future. But because I know the One who knows, I can tell you it’s glorious and that twe have great reason for rejoicing and for inviting others to become part of this beloved bride.