May 26, 2014
It’s been a partial week into my new surroundings at Cornerstone Bible Fellowship Church, but it’s not been a week without lots of praying and thinking and pondering. One of the things that’s been a burden has been how best to reach out with the Gospel. Every church, no matter the size, should be actively reaching out. And while there are a myriad of programs and plans for outreach, a great part of the ministry of outreach to our churches should be organic. It should naturally outflow from each of us as believers in Jesus Christ. Not just to grow our particular church, but to grow God’s church. We can’t just hope that people show up on Sunday, hear the Word preached and then get saved. Each of us need to be involved in the outreach process of sharing the Gospel. On that note, I want us to consider that outreach means getting out there.
What do I mean?
Again, so much of our outreach is program oriented. Let’s create a program and bring people to it. That can be effective, but it’s fairly passive on our part. Our only obligation is to bring people to an event and let someone else do the rest. That can be fine, but it doesn’t fulfill our obligation to get out and tell people the gospel. We also have so many wonderful materials on “how to tell people the gospel” that perhaps it’s not that the telling is the problem, but the getting out that is.
As a pastor, it’s my job to not only help each one of my people to be equipped to share the gospel, but also to set an example. When I came to Tunkhannock at my last pastoral charge, Jim Jeffrey, President of Baptist Bible College, took me to lunch and said to me, “you need to join Rotary.” I thought, I don’t have time to be involved in some kind of community club. He said though it would be a great way to meet people. So I took him up on it, and found out it was a great way to meet people. I got to know most of the community leaders and be involved in their lives. It gave me an opportunity to build relationships and therefore share the gospel. It gave me opportunity not only to invite Rotarians to my church but also to share the gospel with them directly. Jim Jeffrey was right. I needed to get out there and build relationships.
Now, I’m not saying you have to join Rotary. But find some outlet that you can get out there in the world and mingle and meet and build relationships with unbelievers. Do you like to garden? Become a master gardener. Do you enjoy music? Find places where musicians spend time. Are you into sports? Join a baseball league. There are all sorts of ways you can get involved with unbelievers. Can’t do any of these things? I bet many of your neighbors aren’t Christians. Invite them over to your home for meals. This all sounds a little obvious, but how many are seeking to proactively be missional about how we get out there. Are we seeing our involvement in the community and with other people less about “us” and more about “them?” Are we utilizing our hobbies and interests and involvement in the community as avenues for ministry and outreach.
Consider this week…
- What do I enjoy to do? What are my interests? What would I like to get involved in?
- How can I use these interests and hobbies in my community somehow?
- How can I prayerfully use these getting out there things in my community to build relationships and share the Gospel with others.
On that note, it’s high time I get out there.
May 10, 2014
Well, it’s been a long time world wide web, but I’m back. It seemed like after I left our last church I didn’t have too much to say anymore. Ever since the fateful day in August when I was confronted with the vicious backhand of reality and my impending departure from my church, I have felt I was not able to write anything here. I didn’t feel like I had much in the way to contribute. But, it’s been almost 2 years. And the Lord has sought fit to place us back into a pastoral role. And I wanted to take a moment to reflect on a few things that I have learned from August 2012 until now.
- God is sovereign. I preach this regularly, but fail to live up to my own words. How easy it is to say God is sovereign, but then when the carpet is pulled out from underneath you it’s much harder to accept your own preaching. Now I know why the Puritans talked about preaching the Gospel to ourselves. Because I need it. I especially need to preach it to myself when things are good, so that when things are bad, I’m more prepared. I never would have thought we would leave our church, but God is sovereign. In His sovereignty, He decided what was best for His glory, His plan, and my good. I didn’t understand it. I still don’t. But He does. It’s His plan. And at least now I can look back and say more than I could before, I think I see why.
- God is gracious. Boom. And just like that no job, no money, no nothing. No family around, no church family. This is when the desperation sets in. Sure, friends call. Some people help. You visit other churches. But, it’s almost like a part of you is missing. Women, you need to know that men see their identity wrapped up in their jobs. When their jobs go, everything goes. That’s how I felt. Depressed. Bitter. Worthless. Yet, God wanted to teach me about grace. When I was undeserving, he gave me a job. It was a lot less paying job, but it was a job. One I was good at. I got promoted within 6 months, and was recently offered my own store to manage. That’s encouraging. And the best part? I never went hungry. The kids always had clothes. Our bills were paid. Sure, God used people to help me often. But God did it. His grace was great in my life to bring me to complete reliance on Him. And what’s more amazing is, I actually feel in a better financial state now rather than before, even though I was making less than half what I was at the church. God is gracious.
- God is good. He didn’t leave me nor forsake me. He was with me the entire time. I grew in Christ during this time. My family grew as well. We got accepted into a church to fellowship with, and then the opportunity to preach to a people nearby for a year, whom I do not think heard the gospel much in the recent past. What a great opportunity it was to get to bring the Word to people again. They hungered for it. Not for me. But the Word. How exciting was that! And then, God brought a new church, with new people who wanted me to be their pastor. A new denomination, a new church, a new state. Huge changes. Exciting, and nerve-wracking. Here was a people who wanted a messed-up Canadian to be their under-shepherd. And we are excited to join them in serving Christ in New York. He didn’t leave me after losing my church. He didn’t say, “I’m finished with you.” He said, let me take some time to refine you. Give me some time to continue to make you more like Jesus. And in due time… well… due time is here. Less than a week away from becoming the Pastor of God’s flock again. He is good.
It’s been a trying number of months. I wondered where God was, how we would pay the bills, what people in our town thought of us, of the friendships and families lost, of wondering if the effort was in vain, and if I would be able to serve in this way again. Yet, through it all, God has been working in me. He’s been refining me. He’s been making me see less of me and more of Jesus. He’s been preparing me and teaching me. What a wonderful Father we have that does not leave us nor forsake us. He’s been with me during this transition. And I am thankful. Yes, I can say thankful now, that God made me go through this transition. For now, by the grace of God, I am a better man. I am a better husband. I am a better father. I am a better Christian. And I think, with full confidence, that I will be a better pastor because of it.
These months have been a gift. One in which I hope, and pray, I do not squander. Pray for me friends, that I will be a faithful servant of Christ Jesus, and remember who God is, and what He has done for me and my family.