As well as time flying by, my age is flying by also. The other week I went Folfing (Frisbee golf) with a couple of teenage boys in our church. Typically I would make up a story about the final score and say that they never stood a chance, but truth-be-told, much like golfing, I am terrible at folfing, and lost miserably. After a while I just reverted to heckling them, which I found to suit me more naturally. At some point in this adventure between counting the clouds, birds, grass, and my score, I counted the boys ages, added them together, and found out that they still were 6 years shy of my age! How can that be?! What happened to my youth? Oh well, I schooled them both at basketball later on in the day to prove to myself that I was still in my prime. Of course that game started off with me telling them a story about Nancy Kerrigan and Tonya Harding and concluded with something to this affect, “…if you don’t want me to pull a Tonya Harding on your knee then you had better let me…”, you get the picture. (If you don’t “get the picture” then I just dated myself with the Kerrigan-Harding reference.)
Sunday Evening Services: Num 22:18 …I cannot go beyond the word of the LORD my God, to do less or more.
This verse has been the anchor for me over the last 2 ½ years of being a pastor. If I am not careful I will allow the brethren to dictate to me what needs to take place in this church instead of God directing me. The pressure has been there, but so has the word of God shining light on the path that He has chosen for me. I have been raised as an Independent Baptist from the womb and have never once been shaken from that. Frankly it disgusts me what “Independent Baptists” have allowed in their churches under the influence of others, showing that they were not truly independent at all, but rather dependent.
With that being said, I have a number of pastor’s or men that I seek wisdom from in approaching the next step of growth for this church. Never have I looked to add more ministries to the church or refused to add more ministries to the church based on peer-pressure.
God brought me to a church that has never had a Sunday evening service. This service has been something that I have been bred to love. It is truly my favorite service of all and it seems to be that way for many pastors to whom I have spoken. Shortly after I got here it became apparent that God didn’t bring me here to start a Sunday evening service out of tradition, but to pastor a church back from the brink of extinction and love people to the Lord…and this is what I set my heart on doing. (What you read is that I am drifting towards the contemporary church movement. This cannot be farther from the truth!)
During the first couple of years I would have special Sunday evening services whenever we had a guest speaker in preparing their hearts for a future service at that time…if God directed me that way. They were always well attended and received. Then people in the church would ask me when we were going to start them up, to which I replied, “When the Lord tells me to.”
One Wednesday afternoon last October, as I was preparing a message on the purpose of exhortation, the Lord told me to tell the church that evening that we were going to start Sunday evening services next year. So I did…and we did in March.
The first service had 44 people in attendance and rounded off after a few weeks in the mid-thirties. We are going through the book of Revelation upstairs with the adults, while the kids are being taught Biblical character traits downstairs by Rose. We don’t have them on the 5th Sunday of the month…because I am going contemporary! JK.
My Goat: Pro 27:27 And thou shalt have goats' milk enough for thy food, for the food of thy household,
and for the maintenance for thy maidens.
Years ago, during the time of waiting for the Lord to show me where I was going to pastor, the Lord gave me the above verse. At that point we only had the two girls (maidens): Deborah and Miriam. On the 27th of a certain month the Lord showed me this verse and basically told me that wherever He was going to send us, we were going to be taken care of by a lost man (goat). It didn’t make sense at the time, but what truly does make sense in the Bible when you want it to. Hindsight is where the sense is made.
During July of 2012, I flew to Idaho to candidate for the church I am now the pastor of. That Sunday, the 28th, I taught and preached in the morning and then we went out to eat before I headed out of town on my trek back to NY. A couple who were members of the church took me out to eat, along with their daughter and son-in-law and their two girls. The evening before I was told that their son-in-law, Gary Powell, was not yet saved, but was interested in salvation. After the meal was over, as I was getting ready to leave, Gary awkwardly extended his hand and gave me a “Baptist handshake”. I casually said thank you and without looking, pocketed the money said my goodbyes and headed out of town. As clear as day I can hear God saying, “There’s your goat.”
He didn’t stay my goat for long, because in November of 2013, Pastor John Haveman led him to Christ after a special Sunday evening service, in October of 2014 he was baptized with his daughter, and this February he led his family in joining the church. Through tears I told this story from my pulpit and said that he was no longer my “goat”, but one of my “sheep”.