Letter from the Pastors

Living Hope,
 
When the Lyles arrived at Living Hope on February 18th, 2011, we had no idea what God had in store for us. A little more than a year later, the church faced a significant season of crisis. Completely discouraged, I reached out to my good friend and mentor, Mark. I’ll never forget what he said: “Dan, the Lord knew your church would face this crisis while you were interviewing for the position, and He’s brought you there for such a time as this.”
 
We have a romanticized view of “calling.” We tend to over-spiritualize calling by emphasizing some sort of spiritual clairvoyance about God’s special will for our lives. Let me demystify things for you. More often than not, calling is nothing more than being faithful to do the thing the Lord puts in front of you. I believe the Lord used Josh Stone and myself in a profound way during that season simply because we were faithful to do the thing the Lord put in front of us. Eventually, Jesus put something else before Josh, and he’s been faithfully following that call ever since. But the Lord had something else in mind for me.
 
In 2014, I was made aware of a disheartening statistic: the average tenure of a Living Hope pastor over a 40 year period was less than five years. Through this revelation, the Lord put something else in front of me, and shortly afterward, I made a commitment in my heart to stay here at Living Hope for 10 years. 
 
In the years since, Living Hope has become more than a calling—it’s home. Malia hadn’t even started kindergarten when we moved here, and now she’s a high school graduate. Eleck couldn’t talk when we moved here, and now he’s reading his way through the collected works of C.S. Lewis and keeping Dylan on his toes with deep theological questions. Susan and I have lived out the majority of our marriage and adult life here in Laconia, and all the while, you’ve been with us. You taught our kids in Sunday school. You cried with Susan when her brother passed away. You prayed earnestly for me when I was diagnosed and treated for a brain tumor. We’ve stuck with you for 13 years, and you’ve stuck with us. You’re our church family, and we love you tremendously.
 
While we would have been content to stay with you for another 20 years, the Lord has made it apparent that He has something else in mind for us. While I desperately wanted to hold onto the calling I picked up all those years ago, it’s clearly time for me to release my grip. That’s the funny thing about callings—not only do we have to be faithful to take them up, we need to be just as faithful to release them back to the Lord when the time comes. So it seems that time has come. 
 
I have accepted an executive pastorate with Crossway Christian Church in Nashua. My last day in the office at Living Hope will be July 31st, and our last Sunday at Living Hope will be August 25th.
 
While we are excited about what the Lord has for us, we’re also in a place of mourning. Laconia is our home, and we don’t want to leave our home. Living Hope is our family, and we don’t want to leave our family. However, the Lord has put something new in front of us, and despite all our fears and trepidation, we know He’s calling us to faithfully take it up and faithfully release you back to Him.
 
As we prepare to step into this new chapter, we carry with us the love, lessons, and memories we’ve shared. We ask for your prayers and blessings as we embark on this journey, just as we will continue to pray for Living Hope’s continued growth and success. Thank you for being our home, our family, and our constant source of support. We love you and will always cherish our time together.
 
Grace and peace, 
 
Pastor Dan


 

Living Hope Family,

The Sovereign Lord has chosen in His wisdom to move Dan and his family. While I can only wish the very best for Dan, Susan, Eleck, and Malia, and give them my blessing, I do so with pain in my heart. Serving with Dan over the last nine years has not only been a working relationship, but a friendship. So, while I can be happy for this new opportunity for him, I am saddened to let him go. There is not only a hole in the ministry here that will be evident with his leaving, but there will also be something missing personally in what has been shared for the last nine years.

All is ok because God is in control. We are to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and he will direct your paths” (Proverbs 3:5). Our trust in Him doesn’t mean we aren’t to feel the loss. This church has greatly benefited from the thirteen years of Dan’s faithful service and investments in this church. So, this loss is real! But we can trust that God’s purposes and plans go beyond our understanding.

I know that just as God has Dan and his family in His hands, he has us as a church, in His hands. God is shaking things up. I am confident that this is to be a time of growth for Living Hope. God shaking things up creates opportunities for reflection, reprioritizing, and reliance on His grace that encourages us forward. Church, this isn’t how the story ends. See it as a plot twist. But in this story, we know that God is the author, and He writes the next chapter. What we see, never tells the whole story. We walk by faith, not by sight. God will bring good outcomes.

Our one constant in the midst of any change is that our Lord Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever (Hebrews 13:8). He is the unchanging Christ we can hold onto for stability and strength and optimism of the good He has for us going forward. Remember, that Our God has not changed in His mission for us to be a church that makes disciples who make disciples. We continue to keep the main thing the main thing as we humbly seek Him for how we can best do this in the days and years ahead.

Church, in the immediate future look for ways to encourage the Lyles. Be sensitive not only to them, but to each other remembering that everyone processes this differently and that news of this loss is felt to varying degrees. Pray for wisdom as we look to what is next for us as a church. Speak to each other with words that are “helpful for building others up according to their needs that it may benefit those who listen (Ephesians 4:29).

There will be a celebratory send off on Sunday, August 25, following the second service, in the gym. This is a time of looking back on Dan’s ministry here as well as looking forward to the next chapter to be written for Dan and his family.

God behind us, we see His mighty works. God before us, we see His marvelous plans. And as we sit on the edge of a new chapter, we rest in His mercies that are new every morning.

In His Hands, Pastor Brian

The Weekly Epistle 6/26/24

Hi Church Family,
As someone jokingly put it, “You know it is going to be a bad day when you wake up in a hospital in traction, and your insurance agent tells you, ‘Your accident policy covers falling off the roof, but not hitting the ground.’” 

Troubles! Got any? Sometimes we bring trouble to ourselves. You’ve heard it said, “The trouble with trouble is it starts out a whole lot of fun.” But what about the troubles in your life that are not the result of your own choices? What is a big problem you are facing right now? 

I would direct your attention to Psalm 34. The Psalmist speaks of a time in his life in which he found himself in a very tight spot. He was in trouble. This is written after he witnessed firsthand the deliverance of God in the midst of a frightening situation. And he began with a call to praise the Lord. “I will extol the Lord at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.” At ALL times? Always! 

It is easy to praise the Lord when things are going well. When the baseball player hits a home run, he might point to the heavens in thanks to God. But I have never seen him do that when he strikes out. Or when the football player runs in for a touchdown, all glory to God. But how about when he drops a pass or fumbles the ball or loses the game? 

Joe Mazzulla, coach of the Celtics, in an interview spoke about three girls he met under the age of 21 with terminal cancer. Mazzulla spoke of their perspective on life in that they could go through such a trial with a positive attitude. He then said, “You always hear of people giving glory to God and thanks to God while holding a trophy, but you rarely hear of it, in times like this.” 

How can we praise God in the rough stretches of life? How can the Psalmist invite the worshippers to praise the Lord at all times? Verse 4 says, “I sought the Lord, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.” The Psalmist goes on to speak of tasting the goodness of God and that God is his refuge. 

I encourage you to pause to read and ponder Psalm 34. The Psalmist is honest about the troubles in life. You never get the impression from reading Psalm 34 that we will be protected from the troubles, but that God is faithful to deliver us out of the troubles. He says in verse 19, “A righteous person may have many troubles, but the Lord delivers him from them all.” 

We are not promised a life of earthly ease. We are promised affliction. We are not to pretend that Christianity frees us from troubles in this world. But we do know that these troubles are not the end of the story. There is the promise of deliverance and redemption. There is the promise of God’s nearness through the difficulty. 

Again, I encourage you to slowly read through Psalm 34, so that you like the Psalmist can taste God’s goodness even in bad times. We gather weekly as a church to remind each other of what’s most real and precious- our God is indeed enormous beyond our capacity to comprehend. See you Sunday, if not sooner!     Blessings, Pastor Brian 

*I will be taking a break from this portion of the epistle. The epistle will continue each week with the announcements and prayer requests, but for now, nothing will be written in this section.