May - Jun 2020

Be Strong & Courageous

Dave Rodriguez

May 31, 2020

Moses knew what was coming. He knew what would happen the minute the people of God would cross the Jordan river to try to take possession of their new homeland.

He knew what leadership challenges Joshua his successor would face...giants, walls, battles, the internal strife and sin and administrative headaches

... and that's why before he walked up into the mountain to die he left them all with these four words: Be strong and courageous!

Normally that would be my set up and I would then say....I dive right in - grab a bible... say something like...if you don't get a bible you won't know if I’m making this stuff up.

but this is a very different moment...a peculiar moment in all of our lives. So before we get to the scripture...I want to say thank you for your love, friendship and care.

  • Lead Team and former members of pastoral leadership - the finest leaders I have ever known and you are my friends.

  • Staff - Chris says we are like a family business and that is so true...you are brothers and sisters but you are co-laborers

  • Gov Board - current and former - it's extraordinary how you have owned deeply in your heart this church and our lives

  • Prayer Team - you know what you mean to me...I would not have made it without you

  • Congregation - if you are still here you have endured an amazing amount of change. You are resilient and have risen to the occasion again and again.

  • Friends and mentors / co-mentors - some of you right now around the country you have loved me well.

  • Isabella , Anya and Jude ... and now Henry...you are the light of my life.

  • Chris Vic, Lucy Kevin Barry and Liv - you make me laugh, you make me weep with joy...and you make me proud.

  • Penny - Dear Lord where would we all be without you? You have brought beauty, order, peace and truth into my life. You have paid a dear dear price for these 42 years. I will spend the rest of our lives trying lamely to say thank you. I love you.


All that said...Back to Moses - now grab a bible...Deuteronomy 31: 1
1-3 When Moses had finished giving these instructions[a] to all the people of Israel, 2 he said, "I am now 120 years old, and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has told me, "You will not cross the Jordan River." 3 But the Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy the nations living there, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua will lead you across the river, just as the Lord promised.

7 Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, "Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. 8 Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you."


Moses challenged the entire community with those words but also turned to his successor, Joshua, and said it again...for good reason!

  • He knew Joshua would have to motivate them to fight giants!

  • He knew Joshua would have to come up with a plan to do the impossible tearing down city walls.

  • He knew Joshua would have to deal with internal defection and sin


And he knew Joshua would have administrative headaches in assigned tribes their portion of the land.

So, he said to his successor - be strong and courageous. And I say that to you Barry. It will take strength and courage to stay with it for the long haul.

Those two things I had lost in the fall of 1996. I almost walked away

There was a time I wrestled with God - walked the beach...cried and prayed and allowed my mind to recall images
something I have been doing over the last few months...

I allowed the hard images ...the tragic memories...and the stupid things I had done and the awful things people had done to me

  • many times in the ICU

  • going to the house of parents whose child was discovered drowned.

  • Woman in Kibera - HIV

  • The man sitting in my office “prepared to be dismayed” ... tale of debauchery

  • the death threats

  • the number of friends who walked away from Grace - for reasons that cut deeply to my core

  • the time it almost tore apart our relationship - Penny and me

  • the contentious meetings

  • the time I let 4 of my friends go

  • and the time I was told I'd be the next Jim Jones

  • my own willful sinfulness

  • I hated being a pastor


But I also allowed the incredible, heart lifting, breathtaking moments in our first 6 years...(as I did in the last few weeks
people surrendering their lives to Christ- the first time we opened the baptism waters - kept going and going

  • the moments in the early days at 2:00 a.m. in Middleboro

  • 25th anniversary

  • deliverances

  • major performances - the last scene of Les Mis

  • watching Amy or Mel or Corinne preach and Cathy speak at CC mtg

  • Weekend of service - cars driving in

  • Care Center

  • The embarrassing Haitian event

  • Merge Retreat

  • Lead Team Retreat - the moment

  • I adored being a pastor


As my time in FL drew to a close I knew I had to make a decision...so I asked God...what do you want to tell me.
Two things I heard from God:

  • I will give you your calling in 24 hr increments

  • Wake up every day and I will give you the thumbs up


I realized that the calling of pastor is one of the most difficult on the planet and it does not rest easily upon the shoulders of a man or woman who has been called. No one could do this job without the call of God upon their life

Every day - Am I good to go?

Low grade fever of sadness

That sounds depressing but it was liberating or at least it all suddenly made sense!

That was enough for me. God made me just strong enough to get up every day and climb my 2nd Mountain. And God made me courageous enough to preach, and counsel and lead even with a low-grade fever of sadness.