Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Why Am I a Pastor?

When I was 17 years old I had a plan for my life. I had a career goal and knew the college I wanted to attend to accomplish that goal. Yet, God began to convict me that it was one area of my life that I was not surrendering to him. That summer that conviction grew as God began to make clear he wanted me to be a pastor. The conviction continued to grow and after a week of Falls Creek where I kept trying to bargain with God to get out of it, I surrendered my life to be a pastor.

Since that day I have had no desire to be anything except a pastor. I love my calling and believe that God has gifted me in unique ways to accomplish the calling. I was never a great student but I worked myself through college and seminary in order to have the skills to be the best pastor I can be. I have been working in ministry for 25 years and cannot imagine my life doing anything else.

Thank you for all the appreciation you showed me and my family in October. I would be a pastor without appreciation, however your love and encouragement make the calling a joy. It is not an easy calling, but is fulfilling. I love being your pastor. I love our church. You are our friends and family. God has given us the privilege to serve you for over eight years and we hope he allows us to stay here for many more. Thank you again for your love and support.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Stewards of People

Jesus said, “Everyone to whom much was given, of him much will be required, and from him to whom they entrusted much, they will demand the more.” (Luke 12:48).  God has blessed us with so much and we must be faithful with everything he has placed in our hands.  This is found in many areas of our life.  We are called to be faithful with our possessions. We are called to be faithful with our time.  We are called to be faithful with our spiritual gifts (1 Peter 4:10).  We are even called to be faithful stewards of the mysteries of God (1 Corinthians 4:1).  As parents we must be good stewards of our children.  As business owners we should be good stewards with our company and the employees who work for us.  Paul said, “Moreover, it is required of stewards that they be found faithful.” (1 Corinthians 4:2)

There is also another area we must be good stewards.  That is being good stewards of those who God has put around us who need to hear the Gospel.  God said, “If I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way… his blood I will require at your hand.” (Ezekiel 3:18). Sharing with people their need of salvation through Jesus Christ is our responsibility.  “How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15).  We have been sent (Matthew 28:18-20).  We must share the good news of Jesus Christ.

We have an opportunity Sunday night to be good stewards of the over 1200 people God brought to our Pumpkin Patch.  We were able to present the Gospel to most of those who came that day.  We now need to check back in with them and see how they are doing.  The number of people that need to be contacted is overwhelming.  But with your help we will prove to be good stewards with those God brought under our care.  We will contact by phone, text, email and home visits.  Bring your cell phones, laptops, tablets and cars so we can multiply our efforts.  You can choose the types of contacts you prefer.  There will be sample scripts you can use to help you know what to say. Help us share the love of Jesus with those we’ve been given the responsibility.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

More Than Business

When we went through the process of restructuring our church a few years ago the Restructuring Team worked to help the church become more efficient and effective.  One of the areas we knew needed to improve was getting more people to have a voice.  At the time, very few people were attending our business meetings and important information was not being communicated well.  There was a disconnect between our committees and the ministry going on in the church.  Switching from a committee structure to a team structure meant team leaders would be given more responsibility and it could have easily meant even fewer people having a voice.  We needed congregational accountability and better communication.  That is how we came up with the idea of doing a Quarterly Ministry Celebration (QMC).

The QMC serves three purposes.  The first is it provides a time of fellowship for us.  We have a meal together and spend time just relaxing and having a good time together.  The second purpose is to provide our team leaders the opportunity to communicate what is going on in their area of responsibility and what their needs are.  It is a time to celebrate all the good things that God is doing through our ministry teams as well as communicate what needs these ministries have.  The third purpose is to provide accountability.  We are a congregational church.  It is the responsibility of the church to provide accountability to its leaders.  Our Stewardship Team and our Ministry Team provide minutes of their meetings as well as a list of those serving.  We want to be open about decisions that have been made and give the church the opportunity to question those decisions.

I have come to look forward to the QMC.  I believe it has served us well.  Our attendance for these is three to four times more than what we were having at our business meetings.  They are fun and an encouragement to those who serve our church faithfully.  I believe those who attend leave encouraged about what God is doing and have more confidence in the direction of our church. I want to invite you to join us Sunday night at 6:00 for our QMC.  I am excited about the Italian themed pot-luck.  I am also excited for you to hear from our Ministry Team Leaders.  God has given us great leaders who need our support.  It is not just a business meeting.  It is a celebration.

Galatians 6:9, And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Manna Ministries Update

As I prepare to present the Manna Ministry Report for our associational annual meeting, I decided it would be a good idea to give an update of our progress.  

Manna Ministries is now incorporated in Malawi and is responsible for church planting and the feeding centers.  With the help of our partner, SOZO Ministries, we are now operating on a $80,000 a year budget providing many of our partners, including Charles and Rose, with a monthly salary.  We also have a plan to buy a 50-80-acre farm which will be used commercially to provide the monetary resources to help Manna Ministries become self-sustaining in the next 5 years.  We have begun the training for our four leaders on how to run such a farm through another ministry in Malawi that specializes in this type of farm.  We thought we found the piece of land, but that purchase fell through.  Please pray for us as we take this important step in the long-term stability of these ministries.  

Some of the other accomplishments over the last year include rebuilding Grace Feeding Center that was destroyed by a storm, buying new property for the location of that feeding center, finishing Zikomo, and buying some additional farming land next to Zikomo that will provide vegetables year-round for all three feeding centers.

Manna Ministries operates three feeding centers that feed around 200 orphans and widows daily.  Two of these feeding centers we started over the last few years in memory of those in our association who supported this ministry, including Zikomo Feeding Center that we started in memory of Bro. Paul Koonce and the Hope Feeding Center in memory of Carol Robbins.  We need $2000 a month over the next few years in order to continue our commitment.  We have a plan, but in the meantime, we need churches and individuals to continue to support these ministries.  We are currently $1000 a month short in meeting these needs.  We need additional churches to step up and help this legacy ministry.  We have partnered with our association to support these ministries.  If you are interested in helping with this monthly need or would like to give toward the purchase of the land for the new farm please talk to me about the best ways to give.  Thank you for your continued support and prayer for this important ministry.

God Provides

God provides in many different ways. I have been reading Ezra as part of my daily devotional time.     Ezra leads the people of Israel out o...