Tuesday, March 22, 2011

My Second Office

I wish I thought through why I work away from my office like Tim Brister has (read it here). With that being said, I have thought through this to some degree. My church has graciously provided me with a wonderful office. There I have most of my books, a great desk, wireless internet, and a wonderful secretary.

However, there are times when I know I want to be out 'in the world' around us. I have pushed for almost 7 months now that we want to be a people who care about taking the gospel to those around us. Therefore, I have been intentional about going to Starbucks on a regular basis (at least once, preferably more) every week. Within a few miles from our church location, I have 2-3 choices of Starbucks, so I try to primarily visit the same one every time. This particular one is extremely busy, so it makes it difficult to meet too many of the same people. I have recently been able to talk with a few people I've seen here several times, and when it does calm down just a bit, I have been able to talk with a few of the employees.

The conversations I've been able to engage in have proved to be an encouragement to me in my gospel endeavors, and a challenge realizing that 'religious' conversations are much different here than where I'm from (North Carolina). I'm used to living in a place (Bible Belt) where most everyone has some sort of understanding of Jesus and the gospel. That is not the case in Fort Myers, FL. I have had several conversations in my short time here proving that this is indeed a place where the church must get out into the community. There are people all over this area who have no idea what a hymnal is, or what it means to go to church. Friends, I no longer live in a place where most people claim some sort of belief in Jesus.

I live in a place where the gospel needs to spread. I live in a place where the church needs to go into the world and make disciples of all nations. I live in a place where this is easier said than done, but I am making small attempts to be used by God in the local Starbucks in our community. Would you please pray for me? Would you pray for our church? Would you pray for the other local churches in our area? There is no way that I, or my church, will reach this area without partnering with other churches in the area.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Expectations, Fears, and Hopes: Part 5

I just recently realized I never finished this series of posts! This is part five in a series of post that I've been thinking about lately in respect to the expectations of pastors. You can read the first four here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
In the previous post I made the passing statement about the importance of Elders being qualified. One of the primary places you see this list is in First Timothy 3:1-7:
The saying is trustworthy: If anyone aspires to the office of overseer, he desires a noble task. Therefore an overseer must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, sober-minded, self-controlled, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not a drunkard, not violent but gentle, not quarrelsome, not a lover of money. He must manage his own household well, with all dignity keeping his children submissive, for if someone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he care for God's church? He must not be a recent convert, or he may become puffed up with conceit and fall into the condemnation of the devil. Moreover, he must be well thought of by outsiders, so that he may not fall into disgrace, into a snare of the devil.
Without going through every item on this list, it's possible to see that the expectations for this particular office are great. God doesn't want just anyone in this office. In fact, one of the major issues I've seen in churches is that anytime someone says they're 'called' to the ministry they are sometimes never questioned or challenged. If I'm honest, my own ordination into the ministry wasn't nearly what I think it should have been. In fact, I have often said I'm not sure how I was 'ordained' when I was. Notice how Paul deals with this issue. In verse one he talks about someone aspiring to the office of overseer (same office as elder/pastor). He doesn't next say to throw them in and hope for the best. Rather, Paul states that the aspirations must be matched by godly living. In other words, these characteristics must be seen in the lives of those who 'aspire to the office of overseer.' Those who wish to lead the church of the Lord Jesus Christ will be held to a high standard. They ought to live lives that others can imitate (as Paul said 1 Corinthians 11:1). If you are going to have a healthy church, submitting to the Lord Jesus Christ, trusting in the Word of God, then you must have qualified elders leading the flock!

Another passage where you can see some of the characteristics of those qualified to lead the church is Titus 1:5-9:
This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— if anyone is above reproach, the husband of one wife, and his children are believers and not open to the charge of debauchery or insubordination. For an overseer, as God's steward, must be above reproach. He must not be arrogant or quick- tempered or a drunkard or violent or greedy for gain, but hospitable, a lover of good, self- controlled, upright, holy, and disciplined. He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Church will typically take on the strengths (and weaknesses) of the leadership. Practically speaking this points to it being necessary to have a plurality of elders. When you have a plurality, you also have strengths and weaknesses dispersed. You have the opportunity to have a balanced leadership. This will hopefully lead to a balanced (healthy) church. But these men must be qualified. They must seek to follow Christ so closely that their people can follow them to be more like Christ. 

Friday, March 11, 2011

Six Months, and I Still Love it Here!

I've now lived in Fort Myers, FL for just over 6 months. It's been a crazy 6 months. It has been filled with a lot of joy, and some heartache. Since I moved my daughter broke her arm, my wife miscarried our third child, my son has been in the ER twice. We made an offer on 5 houses, and are still waiting to close on the one we're in. It has had many challenges, but the Lord has been unbelievably gracious though it all.

I love this area. From the moment we arrived it felt like we were home. My wife and I have talked many times about the wonderful opportunity we have here. I have heard that over 93% of Lee County is unchurched, which means the opportunities and needs are great. With that being said, the Lord has already blown my mind with our church. We have had visitors every week since I've been here. I've sensed great excitement in our church family. I've felt the Lord sharpening me, humbling me, teaching me, and helping me all along the way. I can honestly say, I love it here. I love my people. I love the opportunity. I love the fact that God has seen fit to use me in these past 6 months, and I pray for many more.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

A Prayer Request for my Wife

We haven't said much to many people, but I've decided to now. Many of you may recall our miscarriage on September 27. I blogged about that here. One thing I left out of that update was that I woke up to a loud noise of something falling at 3:00 AM. That sound was my wife hitting the floor. She was completely out at that time. We assumed this was a result to the loss of the baby (and it may have been), but there is nothing that had prepared me for finding my wife like that. She quickly came too and I proceeded to take here to the ER.

A couple of weeks ago, at 4:00 AM, I woke again to another loud noise. This time it was my wife hitting the hardwood floor at the foot of our bed. She had been up with my daughter for several minutes, so I don't think this was a jumped-up-got-light-headed moment. Something else was going on. For about a week she was extremely sore because she had hit the floor hard. Thankfully, she came too immediately and we set up a doctor's visit soon after. Since then, we've had no more issues, but she has had several tests and blood work done to try to determine what's going on. At this time, we don't know anything yet. She's at the doctor as I type this for her follow-up visit. We hope to know more today.

I'm writing this not for any reason other than asking for your prayers. My wife means a lot to me and our kids. When she suffers, I suffer. There is nothing that I hate more than my wife or kids suffering. So, would you please pray for her? I'll update here as we know more. Thank you in advance for your partnership in prayer.

UPDATE: My wife just came home. It appears her blood pressure is a little low and her triglycerides are a little high. They believe this can be taken care of through diet and exercise. Thank you for your prayers already! Overall she's quite healthy! 

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

New Church Website!

UPDATE: Though it is still a work in progress, we're up and running.

As I type this, we are preparing to launch our new church website. If you've visited our website at all, you'll know we were in major need of updating. Thanks to Chris with Website Interactive, we are pleased with the results we have. If you want to see the before, it will probably be a few more hours from this post before we launch the new one. Then you'll be able to see the difference!