17 years ago today my son who is turning 22 had probably the best birthday a five year old boy could have. He climbed into the biggest U-haul truck we could find in Dallas Texas and took a six hour trip to Freeport, Texas. In fact his 26 year old Daddy thought it was pretty neat too.
Yes, today marks my 17th year of Pastoring the Faith Baptist Church. I am humbled and stand amazed.
I am amazed that God would even see fit to use me in such a capacity.
1 Timothy 1:12 And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; . . . .
I know that it is truly the Lord who put me into the ministry. It is not something I would have chosen for myself. Believe it, or not, I am a rather shy person and was certainly so as a boy. My idea of excitement was not standing in front of people and saying anything. I suppose that I really was not that much different from most people in that regard. I have read that one of the things people fear most is public speaking. But when God called me to preach at the age of 14 he gave me something to say.
I know that it is the Lord that has enabled me. I am humbled that he counted me faithful. This is all I ever want to be. I don't need to be successful, I just want to be faithful.
When I think about it I truly tremble when I consider the fact that a congregation of people are looking to me for a godly example and Biblical teaching and preaching. I know that without the Lord's help I could never faithfully execute such an awesome task.
When I came to Freeport to assume the Pastorate I was 27 years old. When I now look back I think how young, how inexperienced. But God gave me a group of people who were and have been extremely patient with me.
I Pastor a small church and consequently have been engaged in secular employment all these years as well, mostly part time. I have been raising a family, delivering pizza, now driving a school bus, preaching three time a week, teaching two Bible classes a week and I have loved every minute of it. I feel so blessed to be able to do what I do. I love to study, and I love to preach and teach the word of God. I suppose I have always thought I am more than willing to work a little secular employment to be able to do this.
I am thankful for the people who have influenced my life and whose lives I have had a small part in influencing. I am thankful for the two families and one man that the Lord has used me to disciple and establish in the faith. They truly are my crown of rejoicing. I am thankful and humbled to have been able to be a small part of my people's lives. Offering some word of encouragement during their difficulties, a word of counsel at times of turmoil and uncertainty, and rejoicing with them in their victories and blessings. I am thankful for the men I have had the opportunity to equip for ministry, there are several. I am thankful for the young men I have been able to train to study the word and exhort God's people, and the young men I have given some instruction in leading congregational music. All of this because of the unique position in which God has allowed me to serve.
There have been some difficult time and people over the years but on the whole it has been a glorious time. God has from the beginning blessed me with a group of men who are without equal. They have been very supportive and are not afraid of being men and leaders. They have stood behind their pastor during times of ministry difficulty and personal struggle. May their tribe increase!
When we came to Freeport we only had four children the oldest of which was seven. Now two of them are married, another out of school, and another with just a bit over a year left. So, it won't be long before the only two left at home are the two we did not even have when we came here.
I determined when I came here that I was here for the "long haul". There were several reasons for that. One, the Church here had not had a pastor for over three years. Two, I had observed that the stable ministries were the ones that had stable pastors. One of my pet peeves is Pastors who move from church to church every three to seven years. What kind of shepherd is that??? I am convinced it is unbiblical and not in the best interest of the Lord's churches. C'mon preachers hang in there! It is not that I believe that the Lord never moves a man but I do not believe he does it as often as some men move. It is telling that the Lord often leads a man to move when times or people get tough. I seem to remember something about "enduring hardness as a good soldier of Jesus Christ". I committed to not leaving here under bad circumstances. If I left I would leave the church better than when I found it. If most men would make this commitment they would not leave, because we will not be generally inclined to do so during good times.
I would be afraid to leave not knowing who would take my place. Call it jealously if your like, but it is the same kind of jealously that a shepherd has over his sheep. A hireling will not care, a Shepherd will. Not only am I not interested in leaving but at the age of 43 almost 44 I am beginning to give some serious thought about my successor.
Faith Baptist Church is my first and only Pastorate and if they will have me that will continue to be the case! I'm not looking for a bigger place, a bigger salary, a bigger congregation, a bigger city, a bigger anything, I am simply looking to be a faithful minister to some of the greatest people on God's green earth!
Standing at the threshold of twenty years!
1 Thessalonians 5:24 Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it.