Monday, May 17, 2010

Love your Pastor and pray for him

I've been chatting behind the scenes with Matthew Schultz. I'm an old guy (50), but Matthew is a young man, who is a seminarian, a husband, and a father. He confided to me that making the decision to take on an effort such as writing for Beggars All "should not be made without the feedback from the local church."

Providentially, the Lord provided just such an opportunity for me, on the very day that I received the invitation from James. Our church's family group at the time was right in the midst of a weekly series in which individuals are invited to share with the group just what it is that the Lord is doing in their lives. And I was able to share my invitation to write for Beggars All that very day.

My story was well received. And the reason it was so, is because my church, a PCA church, lives and breathes the doctrines that came out of the Reformation. We have, in fact, held special educational seminars to the effect that, yes, the Reformation was a necessary event, and it continues today.

My pastor is a relatively young man -- he's in his mid 30's, with a devoted wife and three small children. I know his family because, in addition to Sunday worship services, our church emphasizes "small group" meetings. He holds the "family group" meetings in his home, and I've been a part of that group for the last year or so. My family has been to his home on multiple occasions. My kids play with his kids.

He lives in an old wood-frame home, in one of Pittsburgh's older ethnic neighborhoods, and he's blessed to be able to live in a home that his grandfather lived in as a young man, back in the 1920's and 30's. [He has a photograph of his grandfather standing on the front porch, probably in the 1940's, with the house number clearly on display. That's the house he now lives in.]

I'm sure he feels sometimes like he lives in a fishbowl. He signed on to be a pastor of a church-plant, a start-up church, and within five years or so, this church has grown to have probably 200-250 people in attendance each week. Without a doubt, such growth is attributable to God's grace. And it has been God's grace that put him in this situation.

He is young, energetic, not afraid to try new things. Still, he understands where he came from -- his desire is simply to serve the city of his family's heritage. He is an excellent communicator; his sermons begin in real life situations. But he does not rely on his own wisdom. He is not afraid to turn to the Reformers to make a point, and he always returns to the Scriptures for clarification.

He got to go on vacation last week. It was his 10th wedding anniversary, and when we had our next family group meeting he and his wife were simply raving about the wonderful time that they had.

We should all pray for our pastors, and make sure that they have such times of blessing in their lives.

Your pastor is a man who once had (and may still have) a burning enough love for the Lord to have devoted years of his life, above and beyond a typical college degree, to learning the Scriptures and how to minister, with the intention of devoting his whole life to the service of the Lord through a life of service to the church. This type of devotion is a gift from the Lord. "The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching" (1 Tim 5:17).

Earlier in the year, we studied prayer in the New Testament. Here's one of the more memorable prayers for me. It is a prayer of the earliest Christians for their leaders. They didn't pray for easy lives; they prayed for boldness for them, with the understanding that God is sovereign:

On their release, Peter and John went back to their own people and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said to them. When they heard this, they raised their voices together in prayer to God. “Sovereign Lord,” they said, “you made the heaven and the earth and the sea, and everything in them. You spoke by the Holy Spirit through the mouth of your servant, our father David: “‘Why do the nations rage and the peoples plot in vain? The kings of the earth take their stand and the rulers gather together against the Lord and against his Anointed One. Indeed Herod and Pontius Pilate met together with the Gentiles and the people of Israel in this city to conspire against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed. They did what your power and will had decided beforehand should happen. Now, Lord, consider their threats and enable your servants to speak your word with great boldness.
My advice is to love your pastor, pray for his boldness. Buy him books that celebrate the history and the theology of the Reformation. I thank God every day that I've found a church where it's understood that the Reformation was a necessary event in the life of the church, and more, that my pastor and elders understand this.