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Faith Lessons from a Rose Bush

Lee Greer, Chairman of the Leaderboard, shares how he's seen God use change to grow our church:

A red rose is one of God's wondrous creations. I have a red rose bush outside my kitchen window. I planted it for my wife, for Mother's Day, shortly after we moved into our house 16 years ago, right around the time we joined Trietsch. This rose bush has been a source of great joy, some consternation and a little pride. While I gave it to my wife as a Mother's Day present, over the years, it has become "MY" rose bush. I care for it, feed it, prune it, talk to it and keep all the nut grass near its roots at bay. We have a relationship.

Every so often, I snip a couple of the blossoms off in full bloom and give them to my wife and daughter just to hear them say, "Awe, you're so sweeeeeeet."  It makes me feel good and helps me when I need a hall pass to play golf or go out with the guys (which is not often, BTW). I am thankful for my rose bush. It has given me tremendous joy over the years.

In the early years, after planting the small root ball with its scrawny stem, it was wonderful to watch the bush grow. I'm an organic guy, so I took special care to find the right rose food and watered it religiously. I mulched and weeded and tried to protect it in winter. It grew and grew. Here's a pic of the blooms after one of those early Spring rains…

I don't pretend to be a green thumb or rose whisperer, so don't expect any expert advice on ridding your plant of that powdery mildew or those black spots that take over at times. We'll have a few years when the weather cooperates and it's a sea of red on the bush. But, I find that not every season is as bountiful in the bloom department, and some years we get nada. Some years, I go through "rose stress" and spend too much time wondering what I've done wrong and if it will ever see another bloom.

God can certainly put you to the test in growing roses. He knew something so beautiful would require a lot from us. And, we may question whether it's worth all the headaches at times. In the end, one amazing blossom can put your perspectives in line and help you appreciate the sacrifices necessary to produce God's intended masterpiece.

The rose bush seems an apt metaphor for the life of our church, and can teach us about being good stewards through the various seasons we experience as the body of Christ. 

When Trietsch first started, they met at Timbercreek Elementary School, not too far from our present location in 1982. A handful of faithful Christians had a vision for bringing the message of our Savior to this community. Like my roses, Trietsch grew rapidly in the beginning. Before we knew it, Mr. and Mrs. Trietsch donated the land our current buildings sit on and we broke ground on the Ministry Center, with plans for our Sanctuary and what is currently Faith Voyage. Looking down on Trietsch from an airplane, the main building forms a cross. 

We quickly outgrew the Ministry Center. Our need for more space was a time of discernment and challenges. God provided. He provided the leadership, the resources, and the promise of leading more people to Christ. Growth had its challenges and required faith to make the transition from small church to large church. We had a few hiccups along the way. 

When hiccups happen and in times of need, we have always been a church that supports each other. When we didn’t have funds to complete the construction of the Faith Voyage addition, each Sunday School class and other small groups pitched in to paint the entire interior of the building. We had so much fun painting the themed rooms and seeing what amazing artists we have among us. I think it's so cool that each room has a chicken or rooster painted somewhere, in honor of the Trietsch family (they were chicken farmers). 

A construction crisis brought our church body together, and united us behind our vision for a world class Children’s Ministry. 

Paul writes in Romans 8:28, "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." 

This is just one of many examples in our church history of how God brings goodness out of trouble. He blesses those who are obedient.

There have been other transitions that felt like an awful pruning. When you prune roses, you cut them way back (or at least I do). This pruning produces a growth response in the plant. The result is wonderful new growth and beautiful blooms. I believe God uses situations and circumstances to prune His followers in an effort to produce a similar growth response. At least it's been true of my personal experiences.

We've had our fair share of pruning. During the economic crisis, we had to lay off staff or reduce their hours. Our previous pastor resigned suddenly. Personally, I felt like God was testing us. It was like the darkness of the black spots on the rose bush.

When God prunes you, painful as it may be, He always has a purpose. He gave us a wonderful new Senior Pastor in Daniel Humbert. God brought us Pastor Clay Horton who has an outstanding passion for his ministry. Together with Doug, Karen, Kris, Camille and an amazing staff, God has blessed us through our pastoral transitions. Just like a rose bush, we have come back stronger as a result. 

I can count our blessings. Giving is at an all-time high. We're focused behind a mission to lead people into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. Our vision and core values are clear. Charity:water is saving hundreds of lives as a result of our raising over $87,000. We are mentoring at-risk kids at Hendrick Elementary. No Selfie Saturday, a day of selfless service, was a big success last year. Our capital campaign raised over three million dollars. The list goes on.

There are blessings behind the transitions. After many transitions in my personal life over the past year, I can tell you this… God rewards the faithful. At the end of the day, faith is all we have. Faithfully and humbly, I submit to His authority and to those who He has called to lead our church. 

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