Thinking back on the events of the last year or so, several milestones have passed and in between these rather significant events life goes on day by day. Sometimes an event that may seem rather or even very significant to one and is something to be celebrated is rather mundane or unwanted by another. Looking back on some of the things over the past year or so, has kind of got me thinking about some things. I know I don’t get here nearly as often as I like to post thoughts, studies and such, so I thought I’d just share some thoughts that have been kicking around a bit here and there. These are not necessarily in chronological order or order of importance, just some random thoughts to share.
Most recently, our church celebrated 50 years of ministry. It was founded as Bible Baptist Fellowship in November or December of 1970, I believe meeting in homes of a few charter members and the founding pastor. In April of 1971 it was incorporated as Bible Baptist Church. Our special guests were from Pacific Garden Mission in Chicago, Illinois. We had a wonderful day of sharing testimonies, food, fellowship and of course sound teaching. It’s easy for me to remember 50 years of ministry, because I also passed up that milestone personally. I don’t much feel any older in my mind, but my body regularly tells me that I’m not 25 and in my prime anymore.
Another personal milestone was observing 19 cumulative years of military service. Just very briefly, 3 states, 3 MOS’s and even 3 different utility uniforms help to complete the picture. It’s been an honor to serve and to be sure, my wife, children and church have had to serve along with me in some respects. Fortunately, when the Lord orchestrated my coming to Bible Baptist Church as Pastor, everyone was very understanding of my military commitment and desired for me to serve there, anyway. Mostly, both the church and the military have accommodated the other and there have been very few conflicts, but both seem to understand and appreciate the importance of the other. Rather recently, I did renew my enlistment to put me beyond the 20-year threshold for full retirement (eventually) with the church’s blessing. Currently, my desire is to focus more on my family and church, my primary and secondary ministries once I’m through with the military or the military is through with me.
Having opportunities to share the gospel, counsel, encourage, pray with and comfort others have been both highlights and struggles in ministry. Looking a long way back, way before I ever began to serve as a pastor, I remember conducting a funeral for a difficult situation. I’ve conducted several since then, but this last year two funerals in a week or so, both for dear ladies who were both charter members of the church really hit me and the church family pretty hard. We take comfort in the thought that they are with the Lord now and we’ll be able to see them again someday. Funerals are never easy, regardless of how well I know or don’t know the deceased. Trying to comfort and offer a sense of closure to the family as well as hope for the future I think is the best way for me to manage these difficult situations.
Counseling, encouraging and comforting are some tremendous blessings to being involved in ministry, but by far the greatest blessing is to be able to share the gospel of Jesus Christ. I’ve had a few opportunities to do this, mostly with soldiers but it’s always a joy to share the gospel. So far as I know, I’m only planting or watering seeds. A dear Sister reminded me today that whether something is said or not, people are watching as well as (probably more than) listening. Sharing the gospel is important, but so is righteous living. I’ve found that the more I immerse myself in Bible Study, prayer, godly fellowship and actively resist temptation, the more I find that I have more opportunity and gain more victory over temptation to sin and perseverance through trials.
More everyday life has included my first daughter becoming engaged to a fine young man. She’s not the oldest, but simply the first. I became a Great-Uncle for the first time. I’ve had greater opportunities and responsibilities in my job as well. Along with my sons (mostly), sometimes my daughters and other help, we’re working on remodeling a “new to us,” older home to move into much closer to the church. Doing this, the Lord is certainly working on teaching me patience and reliance on Him. Sometimes, unfortunately, I’m a slow learner, but I do learn eventually.
Let me try to wrap this up by just a comment about some of the news today from various sources. In too many cases, it’s like reading a page out of scripture. 2 Timothy 3:1-7 comes especially to mind. I think of the Old Testament prophet Elijah who desired that the Lord would just take him home, but the Lord’s answer was that he had reserved many faithful men to himself. 1 Kings 1-19 is the whole story. With that thought, I see the divide in the “church” especially in America and around the world become sharper, continually. Sadly, there are fewer churches or pastors who refuse to compromise or comply with ungodly and unbiblical mandates. Sometimes, like Elijah I seem to lose heart, but often enough, I know I “see” the final chapter because in God’s time, it’s already taken care of. God has it well under control. We have a job to do and the very next thing on God’s timeline is the rapture of the church. I’m listening for the trumpet and trying to share the gospel as much as I can. Even so, Come Lord Jesus!