It’s been quite some time since I’ve actually posted anything besides sermons. Things have been busy, but not so much that I couldn’t have written more. I’ve simply neglected doing it. If you’re reading this, maybe you could do me a favor and bother me about writing something every once in a while. 🙂
Yesterday was my second Sunday as the official Pastor of New Castle FBC, and already my time here has been an overwhelming blessing. Well, perhaps OVERwhelming isn’t quite the best way to describe it. It has been whelming, filling, fulfilling. You know that feeling one gets after pushing back from a huge meal – that “oh I feel so good and full to the very top” feeling? That’s it. That’s what my first 2 weeks have been like.
For one thing, I am continually amazed at how the Lord Jesus has opened doors to call me here. There were an infinite number of opportunities for me to be pulled away somewhere else. In fact, it felt like a random accident that I ever preached here in the first place. As I was sitting next to Will Gerrald in class during my first semester a year ago, I nearly didn’t ask the off-hand “So, how are things at your church? Have you been able to find people to fill the pulpit?” He, I’m sure, could’ve said a thousand other things, but instead half-jokingly quipped: “Yea, I suppose. Why, you wanna preach sometime? haha”
And here I am.
I’ve been floored by the outpouring of affection that the people in this faith family have given me. The Lord has, over the past 9 months as I was interim Pastor, steadily increased my love for these people. I was unaware that He was doing the same thing in them. The amount of time, thought, money, love and effort that they have put into helping me get settled here is truly humbling. They have worked so hard and given so much to help me make the parsonage livable. The most valuable of all the things they’ve given, however, are not the gifts and meals and things, but the kind words; the prayers; the encouragement and expression of confidence.
I don’t feel that I deserve any of this. Who am I that the Lord should call me to proclaim the joy of His salvation? Who am I that these people should be so generous in their kindness to me? And yet, it is such a beautiful reminder of Christ! The truth is this: I DON’T deserve to be called into gospel ministry. I DON’T deserve the love and kindness of the folks here at New Castle. And yet, because of Christ Jesus and His mercy; because of the fact that He knits His people together in love so that they rejoice in encouraging one another and bearing one another’s burdens; because of these things I am here.
My gracious Lord and Redeemer Jesus, THANK you. I have no offering to give that is great enough to even express my thankfulness for all that you have done in and for me. Help me, then, honor you in everything. I have nothing worthy enough to give, so help me give you everything, Lord!
Keep me faithful for the sake of your people. For the sake of the saints and those who will believe in your name in this place, set my heart steadfastly on you and do not let me feet stray from the path you set before me. Make me holy and courageous. Make me mighty in the Scriptures, and increase my understanding of who you are through them. Help me, then, to clearly teach what is in accordance with your truth so that they might also know you.
Lord, return to your people the blessings they have heaped upon me. Always make me willing to lay my life down for them. Always make me eager to give my all for them. Show me how I must live so that they might benefit. Lord, you are the Great Shepherd, and I am merely a servant under-shepherd. I do not presume to know what is best for your people, and so you must lead me in how to care for them.
Lord, for the glory of your great and mighty name, expand your kingdom in the hearts of your people here! Let an abiding and urgent love for you grip every corner of their hearts and lives, so that they might know the joy that is found only in you! Give rest to their souls as they seek after you. Let them taste the abundant goodness of your blessings. Reassure and encourage them by your patient tenderness to hear and answer their prayers, Lord. Increase their faith. Make them valiant followers of you, their King and Father. Strengthen their feeble arms and weak knees so that they might boldly proclaim the gospel. Let them stand firm as one body so that your glory might shine brightly among the world, and send them out to shine light into the darkness. Oh righteous Father, glorify your name among these people!
It is the greatest honor of my life to serve as Pastor. May the Lord grant that I might be found faithful. May He grant that I faithfully run the race. And may He grant salvation and eternal blessings to His people here.
Blessed be the name of the Lord!