The Greatest Peril of the Ministry

We’re in the middle of the busiest season of the year here at Cool Community Church. We have dozens of programs, initiatives, etc. that will all be launching in the next month along with nearly half a dozen building projects that are already in process. In his book Gathered Gold Andrew Bonar makes the following observation that I found very helpful/convicting today:

‘One of the gravest perils which besets the ministry is a restless scattering of energies over an amazing multiplicity of interests, which leaves no margin, time, and strength for receptive and absorbing communion with God.’

August 20 2014 | Blog | 1 Comment »

The One Thing Due Every Minister

On January 27, 1854 Charles Spurgeon accepted a call to be the pastor of the New Park Street Baptist Church in London. In his acceptance letter Spurgeon wrote the following about what every church owes their pastor.

…And now one thing is due to ever minister, and I pray you to remind the church of it, namely, that in private, as well as in public, they must all earnestly wrestle in prayer to the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, that I may be sustained in the great work.

The relationship between a pastor and his church is a beautiful weaving together of two hearts, which is only made possible through prayer. I know from personal experience that the one thing I need from the good people of Cool Community Church is what Spurgeon requests here from the New Park Street church, that they would labor in prayer on my behalf.

July 23 2014 | Blog | Comments Off on The One Thing Due Every Minister

The Greatest Characteristic in the Life of a Saint

"I defy you to read the life of any saint that has ever adorned the life of the Church without seeing at once that the greatest characteristic in the life of that saint was discipline and order.  Invariably it is the universal characteristic of all the outstanding men and women of God…Obviously it is something that is thoroughly scriptural and absolutely essential." – Martyn Lloyd-Jones

August 11 2010 | Blog | Comments Off on The Greatest Characteristic in the Life of a Saint

My Story (part 4) – Shepherding


I’ve already written about “My First Church”, so a large part of this story has been told in previous posts.  However, as I reflect back on this season of my life I am again struck by the two facts that have framed this series, 1) I am a great sinner, 2) Christ is a great Savior.  Before coming to PMC Church I don’t think I had any idea of how great of a sinner I was, but God continued to prove himself to be a great Savior as He molded and shaped me into a shepherd.

2001 proved to be a momentous year for Amy and I.  We were married on March 17 and were planning on Amy finishing her teaching credential, after which I would start seminary.  Much to our surprise the Lord moved us up to PMC Church in December of 2001 and started to give me a crash course in shepherding.  Having graduated from The Master’s College I came into ministry with a lot of assumptions and to be honest probably a lot of pride.  Over the course of the four years that I ministered at PMC Church God broke me down piece by piece and reshaped  me into the shepherd that He wanted me to be.  God used two primary tools in tCapturehis reshaping process, 1) Pastor Ray DeLaurier, 2) The Master’s Seminary.  Pastor Ray was a godsend for my  prideful heart.  He demonstrated the utmost patience with me and was faithful to instruct me in the art of preaching and pastoral ministry.  The Master’s Seminary took the practical lessons that I was learning from Ray and showed me the depth of God’s Word that undergirds  every aspect of Pastoral ministry.  With these two tools, the Lord went about the gracious work of turning me into a shepherd.

I’ve recorded a number of different experiences from my time at PMC Church, however when it comes to my own personal story one incident stands out above the rest.  About a year after I’d started at PMC Church I went into Pastor Ray’s office and broke down.  I told him that I felt underappreciated and that I just wasn’t getting the respect that I thought I deserved.  The truth of the matter was that I was prideful and had forgotten my own great need of humility in the face of the gospel.  As Ray and I talked God worked powerfully to humble me, to mature me and to break me of my pride.  That event in Ray’s office was a turning point for me in ministry.  I began to realize the truth of Isaiah 66:2 – “This is the one to whom I will look, to he who is humble and contrite in spirit, and who trembles at my Word.”  I finally understood by experience that God does not look to the great, nor the powerful, nor the highly respected in this world.  Rather, he looks to and uses shepherds who are humble and who tremble at His Word.

Throughout my time at PMC Church the Lord tenderly called me again and again to remember the fact that I am a great sinner and time and time again He demonstrated Himself to be a great Savior.

December 28 2009 | My Story | Comments Off on My Story (part 4) – Shepherding

Loads & Burdens

One of the sad realities of working with people is that it can be really messy at times.  People don’t come with neat and clean problems that are organized and arranged in alphabetical order.  They come broken and hurting and frequently seem to be lost in a fog.  Part of the job of every minister is to enter into the mess of people’s lives in order to bring clarity and hope.  One of the best ways to do that is to be able to distinguish between “loads” and “burdens”.  I found this article on “loads and burdens” to be extremely helpful in my own thinking about how to best bring help and hope to those I minister to.

Here’s an excerpt:

A “load” is a light enough pack that someone should be expected to carry it alone. Practically, this means that the typical person needs to find a job, pay their bills, read the Bible, attend church, pursue Christian friends, pray, repent of sin, share their faith, watch their diet, exercise, and look after themselves and their spouse and children if applicable.

A “burden” is a heavy load that is simply too much for one person to bear without the loving help of Christian friends. Practically, the person with cancer or another debilitating ailment, the mother of young children who is abandoned by her husband, the poor elderly widow who cannot pay her bills, and others like them should not feel guilty for seeking reasonable help nor should they be chastised for doing so. Rather, the church exists in part to help lessen their burden by taking some of the financial, emotional, and practical weight out of their pack and carrying it for them.

You can find the whole post here.

November 23 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on Loads & Burdens

Where the Wild Things Are

where_the_wild_things_are_ver2 When I was a little boy my mother used to read the book “Where the Wild Things Are” to me before I would go to bed.  It is the story of a little boy who had been very naughty and was sent to his room where he fell asleep and dreamed of going to where the wild things are and having a “wild rumpus” with them, eventually becoming the king of the wild things.  The story ends with the boy feeling homesick and going home only to awaken from his dream and find that his mother had left a meal for him in his room that was still hot.

It’s funny, but sometimes ministry can feel a lot like this children’s book.  If you’ve ever attended a tense church business meeting, sat in on a controversial elder meeting, or participated in a church budget meeting you have probably experienced something of a “wild rumpus” with the people of God.

If you aren’t careful, it would be easy to allow these experiences to weigh down your spirit and become a cause of great angst rather than an occasion for your own growth in the discipline of patience.  The fact of the matter is that if you’re wondering “where the wild things are?”, the answer is that many of them are here at the church and they are here for a reason.

I was recently reminded of the story of Charles Simeon who was a pastor in the church of England in the 1700’s.  Charles Simeon was assigned to a church that essentially despised him because he preached the gospel and called men to live holy lives.  The malice of some of the people in the church went so deep that they actually locked their pews (at this time individual people could own pews and refuse to allow others to sit in them) and forced the rest of the congregation to stand in the aisles as Charles Simeon would preach.  Now I’ve seen some wild things in my years of ministry, but I’ve never seen something like that.  What makes this scenario even more unbelievable is that it went on for 12 years straight.

I’ve been greatly helped by Charles Simeon’s comment on his “wild rumpus” over these 12 years.  Simeon wrote:

In this state of things I saw no remedy but faith and patience. The passage of Scripture which subdued and controlled my mind was this, “The servant of the Lord must not strive.” It was painful indeed to see the church, with the exception of the aisles, almost forsaken; but I thought that if God would only give a double blessing to the congregation that did attend, there would on the whole be as much good done as if the congregation were doubled and the blessing limited to only half the amount. This comforted me many, many times, when without such a reflection, I should have sunk under my burden. (H. C. G. Moule, Charles Simeon, [London: The InterVarsity Fellowship, 1948, orig. 1892], p. 39)

If you’re in the church for almost any amount of time you will encounter the wild things and sadly at one point or another most of us will act like one of the wild things.  What Charles Simeon has taught me is that in my encounters with the wild things God is actively pursuing my growth in  “faith and patience” and that makes the wild rumpus worth it.

HT: Desiring God

October 26 2009 | Devotional | Comments Off on Where the Wild Things Are

What’s the Problem?

The central problem of our age is not liberalism or modernism, nor the old Roman Catholicism or the new Roman Catholicism, nor the threat of communism, nor even the threat of rationalism and the monolithic consensus which surrounds us. All these are dangerous but not the primary threat. The real problem is this: the church of the Lord Jesus Christ, individually or corporately, tending to do the Lord’s work in the power of the flesh rather than of the Spirit. The central problem is always in the midst of the people of God, not in the circumstances surrounding them. [bold added]  – Francis Schaeffer, No Little People

May 01 2009 | Blog | Comments Off on What’s the Problem?

Divine Appointments

Sunday was a pretty interesting day for me. I had a great time teaching my “Foundations of the Faith” class, but I noticed right when we started that Amy got a page from the children’s department and had to leave for most of the class. After the class was done she told me that Micah simply did not want to go to Children’s Church for some reason, which is very unusual for him. Normally, Micah loves going to Children’s Church and playing with his friends, but for some reason this day he was not interested at all.
I decided a long time ago that if there was an issue with the kids on a Sunday Morning that I would take care of it and make sure that Amy was able to attend the service. So, we found someone for her to sit with and I preceded to take Micah with me and setup for a couple of other meetings that I had that afternoon.

Around 12:00pm I decided to take Micah and head back to the sanctuary and hope that he would stay quiet for the last part of the sermon. As I made my way down the hall I noticed a man walking in front of me, who I’d never seen before. He stopped and talked to one of our members, who after looking around for a bit saw me and told him that I was the person he was looking for. The man approached me, told me that he was from the community and that he really needed to talk to a pastor, so I told him that as long as he didn’t mind sharing my office with a 2 year old, I’d be happy to talk. We ended up having a great conversation about the Lord and I hope to hear from him again soon.

As I’ve reflected on the experience God has impressed a couple of lessons on my heart. The first is the importance of being available. I definitely wasn’t expecting this kind of an encounter as I walked around with my 2 year old, but I was available for this man and that made a big impression on him. The second lesson I learned was that God is more than able to take hard things or even frustrating things in life and use them for His glory. To be honest, I was a little irritated that for some reason my son did not want to go to Children’s Church and that I was being forced to miss the service, but if it hadn’t been for Micah I wouldn’t have been walking down the hall at the exact moment when this man needed to talk to a pastor. Proverbs tells us that the King’s heart is in the hand of the Lord and He directs it where He pleases, I guess that applies to my 2 year old as well.

October 15 2008 | Devotional | Comments Off on Divine Appointments

Inadequacy and The Fear of Man

One of the unspoken fears that many pastors face is that of inadequacy. Even the apostle Paul seems to have struggled with this to some degree, we see him crying out “Who is adequate for these things?” in 2 Corinthians 2:16.

It seems that the longer that I am in ministry, the more inadequate I feel. I believe that on one level this is a good thing, because it reminds me of how much I am dependent on the Lord for everything; however this sense of inadequacy can quickly degenerate into what the Bible calls “the fear of man” (Proverbs 29:25). “The fear of man” refers to the desire to be honored or thought of well by people and the paralyzing fear of not having others think well of you.

I was graciously reminded of my own sin in this area this morning as I had some time to think about the ministry and how God has been working in my life lately. One of the necessary attributes of leadership is confidence. Leaders, by virtue of their position, must be confident people. This certainly does not mean that all leaders are arrogant, but they must be confident of what they’re doing, where they’re going and how to get there otherwise no one will follow. The flip side to this confidence is frequently a personal lack of confidence.

As I thought about the ministry that God has called me to, some haunting questions began to come into my mind: Am I a good pastor? Am I really called to pastoral ministry? Is what I’m doing successful? Do I hold doctrinal positions too strongly? As I dwelt on these questions, I was shocked to realize the perspective from which I was asking them. I wasn’t asking myself whether God believes that I’m a good pastor, but rather whether other people believe that I’m a good pastor. I wasn’t asking whether God would consider my ministry successful, but whether other people would? I wasn’t asking what God thinks of my doctrinal beliefs, but what other people think of them? Ultimately, I was craving the approval and affections of men more than that of God and that is the fear of man. Scripture tells us that we are to fear God and not man (Proverbs 29:25). Ultimately, it is his opinion and his opinion alone that matters. Romans 14:4 speaks of the servant of the Lord and says, “…It is before his own master that he stands or falls. And he will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make him stand.”

So, it is right and good to feel inadequate because after all, I am nothing more than a clay pot holding a very precious treasure. But in the end, I am God’s clay pot and it is his assessment of my work that matters most.

October 13 2008 | Devotional | 2 Comments »

High School and Junior High Kidnapping Videos

Every year The River Student Ministries goes kidnapping at the end of the summer and picks up the new 7th Graders (Sevies, as we like to call them) and the new Freshman (on a different day) at an absolutely ungodly hour in order to welcome them to Youth Ministry. Here are the videos of this year’s kidnappings.

High School

Junior High

September 13 2008 | Blog | Comments Off on High School and Junior High Kidnapping Videos

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