Thursday, November 24, 2016

Thankful for Sadness

Ellie has been enjoying the Parade!
Well it's Thanksgiving Day! As Levengood's we're busy watching the parade and getting ready for football. We're excited about gathering together with my (Billy's) side of the family this afternoon. We've got a multitude of things to be thankful for this year!

For me, God has been gracious to call me from death to life through Jesus Christ and I'm eternally grateful for that! God has also been so kind to give me Jodi as a wife and best friend. The kids are also pretty neat too! Jodi and I are extremely blessed to be able to be called Mom and Dad by Ellie, Will, Matthew and Isaac.

I'm thankful for our extended families. They're the best! Jodi and I have amazing parents, indescribably awesome siblings, countless fun nieces and nephews along with our all of our grandparents. I couldn't mention them all here, but many of them have been so encouraging and supportive of our decision to move, even if it meant more distance between us and them for now.

I'm thankful for our countless friends, whether friends from school, the Thunder Radio family, or folks we've gone to church with in the past. Thank you for walking with us.

I'm also grateful for Encounter Life Church. It has been an amazing journey and I'm so thankful God would grant me the honor of being called Pastor for the last 7 years. I'm thankful he would entrust me with the opportunity to shepherd and lead such a fantastic group of people. A building doesn't make ELC, but the incredible people who show up week in and week out, Loving God, Living His Mission, Loving People and Leading them to Follow do make the church. Through the last 7 years I believe we've made a lasting difference in each other's lives and in our community. It has been a joy to baptize many of you and celebrate so many of life's blessings with you. What an honor. I'm so incredibly excited about what I believe God will do through ELC going forward.

Most of all, I'm thankful for sadness. As I write this, we're just a few days away from moving from Manchester. On Sunday, we load the minvan and begin this new journey. I've cried more times than I can count in the last 2 weeks. We've said good-bye for now to many of our dearest friends and family. This coming Sunday I'll preach my last sermon at Encounter Life and we'll have the honor of sharing one last meal together. You might ask why I'm thankful for sadness? I'm thankful for sadness because I think it tells us we've loved and been loved so well in Manchester! We've made amazing friends that we'll treasure forever. We're not dead yet, so chances are we'll see most of you again! We've aimed to give our lives to serve our church and the city well. The sadness tell me I think we've done OK! If you've been our friend or willingly walked with us, we thank God for you today! While we're sad, our hearts are full knowing that God has been so rich in kindness to give us friends and family like you.

The next time you hear from us, we should have safely arrived at our new home. We're grateful for your prayers for us! Thanks for everything!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

The Election is Over...the need for Gospel Proclamation isn't!

Well, we all survived the 2016 election cycle! Guess what? Our hope isn't built on a President or a President-Elect. Our hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness. The words of the old hymn "The Solid Rock" are good words for us to think on today! More than anything, our nation needs the gospel. One hope I have is that Christians wouldn't breathe a sigh of relief because the nation may have staved off a complete reorientation of the Supreme Court. We must be people who are serious about the Gospel!

As Jodi and I prepare to move, I'm more committed than ever to be a carrier of the gospel! May we be a people who give our effort and energy to being godly neighbors who are kind, caring, compassionate and hospitable. Where you live, work and play, I pray you will be willing to engage the people God has put all around you. This is a great time for us to be a different kind of people. Perhaps we could interact with people, even those we disagree with, in such a way that people will know us by our love. Obviously we cannot control other people's response to us, but we can control how we treat them. Romans 12 reminds us that as much as it depends on us we should strive to live at peace with every person. Today is a great day for us to live peaceably with others! Whether on Facebook or face-to-face, have integrity, walk in kindness and share the good news of hope found in the finished work of Jesus Christ! Let people know that there is no possibility of lasting hope found anywhere other than Jesus' sinless life, sacrificial death and supernatural resurrection. Wherever you live, whatever you do for work, however you choose to play, I pray we will make much of Jesus and people will find hope!

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Settled in Before Heading Out and Updated Prayer Request!

Hey Friends! We've finally closed on our house and we're so incredibly grateful to a sweet friend from our church for taking us in before we officially head to Oxford! Bless Matthew's heart, he's asking about 5000 questions a day about the new place and what's happening. Many of you have asked us if we're excited about moving. That's a double-sided question. Are we excited to move to Oxford, Absolutely! Are we growing sadder (if that's a word) as the days grow closer to our family moving from Manchester? Absolutely. Knowing what God has called us to go and do bring a measure of excitement and hope as we aim to honor Him, but that doesn't take away the sadness we're beginning to feel as we get ready to go.
Ellie left this note on my board at work recently.
You can pray for Ellie, especially. She's less excited about moving than she has been. She's beginning to figure out she won't see everyone she sees each day. She asked me the other day if we could move all of her friends from school and move our whole church to Oxford. Unfortunately, I don't think we're going to be able to pull off a task that big! But, by God's grace we're going to make it and be just fine. We're grateful for the friends and family who have tried to carve out extra time for us, knowing that our time is limited here. There are tons of people we would like to see before we move and we're trying to do all we can. If you'd like to get together with us before we go, just message us and we'll see what we can do!
Thanks again for being so kind and loving to us! By way of updated prayer requests, here are a few:

  1. Pray for our family as we get ready to move-we're excited, but sad (in case you missed that above :))
  2. Pray for a house for us to rent. We found a house we wanted and seemed promising, but it didn't work, so we have no options currently. Pray that God would open whatever door he needs to so that we'll have a place to live!
  3. Pray that God would continue to provide the resources needed for the new work. We still need to raise around $20,000, if possible. Maybe you, your church or a group in your church would consider either giving a one-time gift or partnering with us over the next couple of year. You can do that by giving online at www.encounterlifechurch.org/give or by mailing a check to Encounter Life Church PO Box 375 Manchester, TN 37349. In the memo of the check note that it's for the PA plant.
Thanks for praying! Thanks for encouraging us! Thanks for supporting us! Thanks for being our friends and sharing your lives with us!

Billy (and Jodi)