A Pastors’ Fellowship

Pastors' Breakfast - May 3, 2011
Pastors’ Breakfast – May 3, 2011

Each month I meet with the other pastors on the Divide. At times everyone is able to make it, while at others, it is only a few, yet it does provide for an opportunity to “feel the pulse” of the Christian community on the Divide. What are the pastors preaching most recently? What challenges and joys is the church experiencing? How can we pray for one another?

I have come to be convinced that we need to be deliberate in the relationships we have with one another – deliberate in gathering together, deliberate in asking the concerns and cares for today, deliberate in rejoicing with one another over His faithfulness and sovereign care over our lives.

Although I may not agree with each man’s philosophy of ministry, I both see them and treat them as brothers in the LORD. As shepherds, we know many of the same sheep who at one point or another has left here to go there. The sad reality is that it seems that most people on the Divide have been in more than 2-3 churches in only a span of a decade. My prayer is that we, as His under-shepherds, can be faithful to the task before us: to “shepherd the flock of God” among us and “proving to be examples to the flock” (1 Peter 5:2-3).

Men’s Retreat with FBC Merced

FBC Merced Men's Retreat
FBC Merced Men’s Retreat with Tom Joyce

On April 11th, 2008, I headed out to a men’s retreat put on by First Baptist Church of Merced. Nearly 70 men came together for a time of mutual encouragement, worship, and hearing God’s Word. The retreat was held at Camp Oakhurst in Oakhurst, CA.

Tom Joyce was the guest speaker for the retreat. He is a retired Navy Captain who is serving the Lord as Pastor of Discipleship and Family at Immanuel Bible Church in Springfield, VA. His quest for effective ministry both to the world and in the church is evident in his testimony and life.

He challenged the men with a series titled, “Leaving a Legacy.” On Friday evening Tom spoke of his journey of faith and how God used his son to challenge him with this daunting question, “dad, what are you going to do with the rest of your life?” The next morning we opened up our Bibles to the book of Joshua and were convicted on the truths of leadership from this great OT leader. Tom asked us men, “where is holy ground for you” (cf. Joshua 5:13-15). On Saturday evening we headed to the NT to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, where we were reminded that spiritual reproduction is all about intentional discipleship. Lastly, on Sunday morning we turned to 2 Timothy 4:6-8 with the challenge to “finish well”.

The weekend made an impact in my life as I thought about these challenging truths from God’s Word. I also saw men answer tough questions in small groups. The fellowship was sweet with men I did not know very well. Thanks to the invitation of my adopted “mom and dad” (Angie’s parents – Dr. Bob & Sandy Nelson), my heart was challenged in leaving a legacy. In the end, it is all about faithful obedience to our Lord. It is as Paul said to the Ephesians “trying to learn what is pleasing to the Lord” (cf. 5:10). This is the kind of life that I want to live. This is the legacy I want to leave behind.

SC 2008 – God doing Great & Mighty Things

GVC at the 2008 Shepherds' Conference
GVC at the 2008 Shepherds’ Conference

In March, I had the distinct pleasure of attending the Shepherd’s Conference at Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, CA.  What can I say?  I love making this trip down to my home – where my heart resonates with fellow under-shepherds of God’s flock.  I was particularly excited about this year because some of the men I have gotten to know who live on the Divide were going to be there for the very first time.  My excitement for them seemed to overtake me as I knew that God was going to do great and mighty things. And He did.  I sat under faithful men and was challenged in my heart about the power of the pulpit.  You have no idea how comforting it was to hear these men preach and teach about God’s glory and honor.  I also saw these men soak up the teaching and be challenged in various areas of ministry.  They give testimony to all those who attend this conference that God does the unexpected and His mighty hand changes hearts.

Winterim 2007

2007 TMS Winterim
2007 TMS Winterim class with Dr. John Hannah

During the second week of January, I have had the privilege of making my way down to Southern California to visit my old “stomping grounds.” The main reason for the visit was to attend a winterim class offered by the The Master’s Seminary . The class was taught by Dr. John Hannah, professor of Theological Studies and Historical Theology for over 30 years at Dallas Theological Seminary, on the life and works of Jonathan Edwards (1703-1758 – “the last of the puritans”). The class has made a profound impact on my life as I study a man who lived some three hundred years ago and glean more about God and myself.

 

The visit has also provided an opportunity to visit many dear friends and family. It is so encouraging to come to a place with welcome “arms.” Each lunch and dinner was spent fellowshipping with God’s people.

It brought mutual encouragement as I hoped – a blessing to me and a blessing to others.

I long to be back home with my family on “the divide” – family being my two little ones and my wife as well as my church family. I have missed them dearly, but I thank God for the opportunity to visit this wonderful place where Angie and I spent almost a decade of our lives. God is so good in allowing me to take this course and visit friends and family. God is so good to bring me back to a loving home and church family.