Remember the scene from the original Karate Kid movie where Mr. Miyagi and baby-faced Daniel LaRusso were sitting down for karate training and began to trim the bonsai tree? Of course you do. As Daniel watched the wise old sage trim with precision the ancient mini-tree he was curious as to how this trimming was supposed to work. Mr. Miyagi pulls out another tree, hands Daniel-son the small scissors and lets him have his turn. He coaches him to close his eyes and begin to see with his mind's eye a picture of the tree. Then, after he has focused his attention on his revelation of the tree he is to go to work. But how to make it happen? Should he cut here? Or maybe there? Which branch needs to be pruned? He asks Mr. Miyagi how to know if he's doing it right and he says....."just trust the picture."

Yesterday, at a beautiful ceremony at the church I am blessed to serve, I was formally installed as the Lead Pastor, only the 2nd man to hold that position in our church's storied 32-year history. The celebration was wonderful - family, friends, church members united in gracious support of what we all believe the Lord is doing here in upstate NY. I couldn't have asked for a better day. But, just like any good celebration, it must come to an end. So this morning, I got up and drove to my office like I normally do, only today was a bit different. We have passed the biggest hurdle that has come to our great congregation in its history. All of our energy and resources for the last 14 months have been poured into this transition and, by grace, the details of it all have been completed. Today, the burden feels a little more pronounced, the responsibility a little more tangible, and the calling a bit heavier. And I began to wonder what the Lord would have me to do with this task he has given me. How would I make it all happen. What would the next steps be? And that's when Mr. Miyagi came calling - "just trust the picture"

God has burned deep in my soul a picture of what it is I am to do - Love and serve my God with all of my being, selflessly and sacrificially love my wife as Christ loved His church, lovingly tend to the needs of my family, and serve a wonderful group of God's people by leading them to spiritual maturity with what a friend of mine calls the "holy leftovers." Our future will be marked with bold proclamation of the Gospel of Jesus, with passionate exploration of how that Gospel changes my life today as well as tomorrow, with selfless love for one another in biblical community, with sacrificial investment in churches here in the Capital District and around the world, and with an over-arching commitment to the Glory of God and joy of the nations.

But how? Today, the how is heavy. How do I begin to lead our people to that end? By trusting that God, who began this good work in me will indeed carry it to completion. By believing that He who founded His church will sustain His church and empower His church to accomplish all that He has for it. And by trusting that the One who called me to this task and who burned that image in my heart, did so for a reason. My hope today and everyday is that I might have the sense to rest in the God who has given us direction. And to "just trust the picture" of what He has shown us....Bonsai!