Tuesday, April 22, 2008

One of those days

This statement may be premature since it is only 3:21 PM, however, so far I am having one of those days where God impresses upon me why I so love pastoral ministry.

I distinctly remember God calling me to pastoral ministry. I was at a church service as a teenager where a missionary was speaking about planting churches in the Philippines. He spoke of the need for pastors who labored at equipping the saints to do the work of the ministry. Such a notion energized me and I was sure it is what I wanted to do with my life- equip the saints to do the work of the ministry.

Ephesians 4:11 And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, 12 to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ...

To "equip" the saints includes all sorts of varied labors, but chiefly it refers to instructing in the Word of God. I do not take the task of reading, exhorting, and teaching the Word of God to mean something solely intellectual or academic, but rather an activity that includes teaching the Word of God and helping others to live it out. To be a shepherd, in my view, means to be with the sheep while instructing, not standing at a distance and delivering discourses each Sunday. I am most invigorated when I am able to preach/teach and interact with the members of our church. I am most frustrated when I get bogged down in so-called administrative stuff (committee meetings, answering endless policy-type questions, checking on various ministry staffing issues, trying to recruit volunteers for this or that, facility-related oversight, computer stuff, etc.).

I have been at Redeemer for 11 years this Mother's Day. My time here has been priceless. I feel like the most blessed pastor in the world. I have an awesome ministry team and the relationship between the eldership is truly unique. The people of Redeemer come ready for the Word of God to be preached and they really want to live it out. My wife deeply loves the congregation and our children are wonderfully integrated in to the life of this church and our school. The challenge, quite honestly, for me, has been to keep to my calling to "equip the saints" in the midst of so much other stuff to do. The administrative stuff I alluded to has choked out much of my time and effort off and on during these 11 years. I am confident most pastors have a similar experience. Few are the pastors who do nothing but preach, teach, and disciple. Our church has been in a constant state of transition for its whole existence, even before I arrived. There are constantly moving parts that never seem to slow and us pastors always feel like we're juggling 5 or 6 balls at once. I am not saying this to complain, in fact, it is a blessing to be at such a place. I am easily (maybe sinfully) bored, so the regular progress and motion is largely exciting to me. Still, I do look forward to our maturing in such a way as to allow the pastors to do more equipping, shepherding, encouraging, discipleship, etc. We're getting there.

All this to say...

As I alluded to at the beginning of this post, today reminded me of where my passion lies. I met with an elder for mutual encouragement this morning for breakfast then came in to the office to meet with my fellow pastors (Nathan and Brian) to discuss important shepherding matters. I continued an email exchange with a couple in the thick of making a major decision. I posted on my blog concerning a snake regurgitating a Tapir (and this post also), I have also been able to take time studying a biblical issue that a new family is struggling with and wants to discuss with me tomorrow. I have spent time planning the next sermon series as well as continue study for my last sermon from Hosea this coming Lord's Day. Before day's end, I will start preparation for the Sunday evening service where I am teaching on the sovereignty of God in relationship to sin (real light topic!). My wife called me earlier and we discussed a discipleship matter concerning one of our families and hymn selections for worship.

I'll tell you what, this has been a great day. This is what I live to do. Days like this serve to remind me of why I pursued pastoral ministry. In light of this, I just read one of my favorite pastoral passages:

1 Timothy 4:13 Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching. 14 Do not neglect the gift you have, which was given you by prophecy when the council of elders laid their hands on you. 15 Practice these things, immerse yourself in them, so that all may see your progress. 16 Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.


malcolm said...

One of the blessings about epositional teaching is that if you listen you might learn something...duh! This type of teaching has taken me to a point of understanding what a church needs to be. Your quote from Timothy and talking about having breakfast with an elder reminded me of your teachings in Titus and Timothy. This teaching has really stuck with me and I find it exasperating that many churches can't build from this simple blue print that is laid out for elders and deacons. I mean, dudes, it's right there. It is a personal blessing for me to be able to recall this teaching but to be a part of a church that understands what is laid out in these books is the best model for the church. But beyond being a deacon or an elder I am also blessed by the other opportunities such as ushering and helping in preparing the communion several times a year. It is my opinion that following the structure laid out in scripture will result in church officials and congregants that will want to work together to give glory to God. It ain't perfect because we ain't perfect, but I will take this church model every time.

Rick Calohan said...

Tony, Nathan, and Brian,

Being a son to my mother, a husband to my wife, a new dad to my son and a new member at Redeemer, working full time, starting at 8:30-45 am, driving 30-45 minutes depending if my wife is working that day one way and another 30-45 minutes coming home most nights not until 7 pm Monday - Friday. Not to mention those everyday errands, tending to my family, working my way through my MATS program, the plethora of email exchanges with Catholics and Free-Willies friends, posting on a Blog called Reepicheep, uploading new pictures of John, and of course reading the Holy Infallible and Inspired Word of the Living Triune God and TABLETALK daily. Catching up on things, I failed to do Monday – Friday on Saturday. Church on Sunday, scanning the church bulletin and emailing it to those Catholics and Free Willies out there on Monday along with the hymns, creeds and confessions not printed and links have help me not only in witnessing but growing in my knowledge of my faith.

The preaching and teaching in your daily work is vital not only to our church, but to my family, my friends, and myself. The ministry at Redeemer is a beacon for the Reformation. By God’s Grace and Divine Providence, the Clergy, the Elders, and the members who have come together, that have built not only in your eleven years but also since the founding of Redeemer-PCA by being the salt and light in unsavory and dark world by proclaiming God’s Holy Infallible and Inspired Word. As the cornerstone at Redeemer reads:

Soli Deo Gloria (Glory of God Alone)

Psalm 127:1

Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.

This past Sunday when the new members including my wife and I came forward to publicly profess our vows to the congregation, immediately following was the hymn Bless Be the Ties That Bind and later I heard the instrumental version of My Shepherd Will Supply My Need Walker’s Southern Harmony if I am not mistaken. Well, the first hymn was often a closing hymn at my old church, and the instrumental that was played at my dad’s funeral almost seven years ago. Along with the Benediction, also know as Aaron’s Blessing found in

Numbers 6: 24-26

24 The Lord bless you and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.

Those hymns along with so many other transforming events that take place on any given Sunday at Redeemer reassures me that the Gospel is alive and well and that the five Solas of the Reformation are proclaimed! From the first service, I attended back in August 2000, and all those in between, and even now, I can attest this to be so each time.

That Salvation is by Grace alone, through Faith alone, in Christ alone, as revealed in the Scripture alone to the Glory of God alone! Sola Gratia, Sola Fide, Solus Christus, Sola Scriptura, Soli Deo Gloria!

We often do not get a chance to say to all of you who have labored so much for us through out the week. From exposition sermons on God’s Holy Word, the music of the choir, organist, pianist, or the work of the Elders, Ushers, Greeters, Flock Leaders, staff and volunteers; and the generosity and kindness of the members at Redeemer; so on behalf of my family we want to say thank you for making Redeemer home.

Job 19: 25 For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last He will stand upon the earth.

Frontier Forest said...

And with all these pressing issues and important duties that you, Nathan and Brian daily and graciously fulfill, last night I was so blessed when your wonderful bride cared enough to call and check up on Cheri. What a blessing is was for so many other Redeeming folks to do the same. We are so blessed to be called to serve with so many wonderful covenant believers.