Confessions of a #NeverTrump Christian Pastor and Why I Will Be Voting for Donald Trump

Confessions of a #NeverTrump Christian Pastor and Why I Will Be Voting for Donald Trump

There you have it. In case the title is unclear, I will be voting for Donald Trump for the office of President of the United States of America. Four years ago, I found myself at a massive crossroads. My conscience was bound by firm convictions that prevented me from voting for Donald Trump. In fact, I may have tweeted a few #NeverTrump hashtags in the process of explaining my case.

Today I’m writing my final article on Delivered By Grace. I have been writing here since I was in seminary when the blog began under the name “Practical Theology Discussions” as a means of discussing theology with my fellow classmates. Since then, millions of people have read articles on this website as the popularity grew over the years. Some of the readers have asked why I’ve dropped off from my weekly routine of publishing articles, so it’s time for an explanation. In the coming weeks, Delivered By Grace will become one of the blogs on the newly redesigned G3 Ministries website that will be released soon. There’s more to be said about that, but look for announcements from G3 coming soon.

As I write this article, I’m presently on a flight home from Brazil where I’ve been preaching for the last several days. I’m eager to arrive back home where I will be reunited with family, but I’m also eager to arrive back home for another reason. I need to vote. I am looking forward to exercising my right as a citizen of the United States of America to vote for the next president of our country.

Tomorrow morning, I will be voting for Donald Trump and I would like to explain my case as to why I have shifted from a #NeverTrump evangelical pastor to supporting and voting for Donald Trump in 2020.

The Issue of Abortion

Since Roe v. Wade in 1973, more than 62 million babies have been murdered under the banner of women’s rights and freedom in America. As a Christian, it is extremely important for me to make it clear that abortion is not a human right. It’s not a woman’s right. It’s not a personal family decision. It’s murder. Plain and simple. It’s murder. It’s not a decision for the freedom of women when it puts to death hundreds of thousands of little baby girls every single year. Add to it that abortion is a historic form of racism against the Black population dating back to Margaret Sanger that persists to this very day.

According to the exit polls in 2016, 62% of Americans ages 18-29 claimed that abortion is “not that important.” We are living in a nation that has enjoyed the wonders of medical advancement, scientific progression, and with all of the technology at our fingertips—we still legalize the murder of little babies in their mother’s womb. It’s appalling.

In 2018, President Trump singled out Planned Parenthood for defunding on the first page of his 2018 budget. He was also the first sitting president to address the March for Life live through satellite in 2018. In 2020 President Trump became the first sitting president to address the annual March for Life in person. Add to this his consistent work to oppose late term abortions and to defund international aid projects that would promote international abortions.

With a heavy push by progressives, the idea of “Pro-Choice Christianity” is being promoted far and wide as another path for Christians to vote for liberal politicians. However, one of the most disturbing twists comes a bit closer to home. Within conservative (becoming more and more less conservative) evangelical circles, Christians are being shamed for being a “single issue” voter and for standing up and opposing abortion. They claim that Title X is responsible for counseling almost 4.6 million families, with majority of families qualifying as low income. They insist that since families now have access to contraception, family planning education, and affordable STI tests—they can murder a baby in one room and “educate” a woman in another room and it will result in the decrease of abortions. Therefore, they argue that we should not vote for conservative politicians who will work to defund such programs.

What does the Bible teach? In Exodus 20:13, the Bible says, “You shall not murder.” Jesus taught that we are to be peacemakers (Matt. 5:9). Since murder is forbidden, each Christian has a responsibility to oppose it. There are better ways for education and providing health care opportunities than through an organization or government program that murders little babies.

Joe Biden and Kamala Harris will move our nation backward in the fight against abortion. They will remove restrictions and put into motion opportunities for late-term abortions as normative protocol. Such progressive policies will be the open door for post-birth abortions in the future. We must oppose these progressive liberal candidates firmly. Abortion matters, but most importantly—the lives of little babies matter.

Donald Trump’s policies and leadership has proven that he will continue to help us advocate for the unborn—and for that reason I will be voting for him on November 3rd 2020. However, like many other conservative Christians, I am not a single issue voter. But, if I were a single issue voter—abortion would be enough for me. When we look at abortion properly, it cannot be reduced to a single issue especially when we take into consideration that hundreds of thousands of little babies are murdered legally every single year in America.

The Issue of Social Justice

This is the hour for a national leader who will stand for justice for the people of our nation. That means that we need a president who will lead in such a way that confronts injustice against the unborn, all ethnicities, both genders, religious freedom, and horrific crimes that are committed against law enforcement officers who are seeking to serve our communities.

Beyond opposing the cancer of social justice, I stand firmly convinced that we must pursue justice as a nation in order to protect the great freedom that we enjoy and the dignity of human life as a whole. However, the progressive ideologies of social justice have infected the whole of our society. The social justice agenda has infected professional sports, politics, corporations, the academy, and most importantly — the church and evangelical denominations. This is the most destructive evil that Christians have had to face in the last century. We must stand firm. One of the ways that we can stand firm is by voting for a president who will oppose such ideologies as Critical Race Theory and other cancerous ideas that emerge through the lens of postmodern philosophies and identity politics.

President Trump issued an executive order to ban programs that teach and promote Critical Race Theory within government organizations. He recently canceled another CRT training that was set to occur through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) despite his recent executive order.

President Trump will work to protect our nation’s freedom from the invasion of dangerous ideologies that have a goal to destroy America and dismantle every fiber of our nation. Our president has done this and will continue to fight this uphill battle for the good of our people.

It should also be noted that under the leadership of Donald Trump, minorities in our nation experienced record-breaking employment opportunities. In October of 2019, just a few months before the COVID-19 crisis hit our nation—both the Black and Hispanic populations experienced record unemployment rates. The false idea that Donald Trump is a racist is simply ridiculous. He supports the advancement of all ethnicities in America, but he merely believes that if someone comes to America from another nation they should do so legally rather than illegally.

We need a president that understands the evil attacks and agendas that seek to bring harm to our nation. We need a president who will work for the people and pursue justice for all.

The Issue of Freedom of Religion

The day is fast approaching where we will see great restrictions upon the Christian community in our nation. 400 years ago, the Mayflower began its historic voyage across the Atlantic with a group of English settlers and Separatists who were pursuing religious freedom. When they arrived, they settled in the new world with communities that were centered around local churches. How long will it be before Christians are forced to flee America for religious freedom? This election matters.

Today, we are witnessing heavy-handed leadership by politicians in their approach to COVID-19 restrictions as a tool to prevent Christians from gathering together in local churches in states like California. John MacArthur has basically stood all alone among the more well-known evangelical leaders as he leads his church to defy the Governor of California and the state’s mandates.

This is merely the tip of the iceberg. There is talk of using progressive politics to greatly restrict the church in our nation by stripping tax exemption status from Christian ministries and local churches. Add to this an agenda to use hate crime speech to restrict what pastors can say in public sermons regarding homosexuality and various other controversial topics.

While Donald Trump is not a perfect man—I believe he is the best man for the job. He has a proven record of firm leadership and he’s not afraid of taking an unpopular stand in order to lead America in the right direction of religious freedom.

Wayne Grudem is exactly right as he writes in opposition to John Piper on this subject in a recent article titled, “A respectful response to my friend John Piper about voting for Trump” where be states the following:

If laws are passed (and upheld by the courts) that enforce the LGBT agenda, no creative professional like a cake decorator (or photographer or florist) will be free to say, “I believe same-sex marriage is morally wrong, and I won’t use my artistic talent to decorate a cake celebrating same-sex marriage.” No high school girl will be free to say, “I won’t undress and change clothes for my gym class because there are boys in the locker room who claim to be girls.” No Christian adoption agency will be free to say, “We will not place children with same-sex couples.”

On matters of religious freedom, this election is crystal clear. If liberals gain control of the key leadership positions within our government, they will press laws and ordinances that mandate Christians to pay taxes that fund abortions and restrict the freedom to make morally upright and God honoring business decisions.

Character and Final Assessment

Does character matter? Yes, it does. It matters greatly. When we evaluate a man for the president of the United States of America it’s wise to evaluate more than his policies. You may not appreciate the President Trump’s choice of vocabulary or his personality. In fact, you may be more attracted to Joe Biden’s personality. However, we are not voting for personalities and character alone. We’re voting for the whole package. As we make our decision, we must ask ourselves the following important questions:

  1. Who will serve to protect the church in America and the various different freedoms that we enjoy?
  2. Who will serve to advance the church’s position regarding the sanctity of human life and the fight against abortion?
  3. Who will serve to protect our nation by leading our military as the Commander-In-Chief of our armed forces?
  4. Who will serve our nation by providing key appointments and leaders such as SCOTUS?
  5. Who will serve to protect our nation from dangerous ideologies such as Critical Theory and its various forms?
  6. Who will serve to lead our nation to economic success in the wake of COVID-19?
  7. Who will lead us out of this COVID-19 season with boldness and will provide for greater medical response and treatment for COVID-19 in the days to come?
  8. Who will be more capable of bold leadership on a global scale with foreign policies that will prevent nations from taking advantage of the United States—especially as it pertains to trade policies?
  9. Who will support our police officers and oppose the dangerous ideas of the “Defund the Police” movement?
  10. Who will serve to secure the borders from illegal entry and threats upon our nation in terms of drugs, violence, and illegal economic competition for American jobs?
  11. Who has the best overall policies that will impact each state and eventually flow down into small towns and cities across America?
  12. Who is poised to take on big tech giants regarding the freedom of speech?
  13. Who will protect our Second Amendment rights?
  14. Who has the best record for leadership and getting the job done in Washington? Is that President Trump in his 4 years or Joe Biden in his 47 years?
  15. Who has the best vice presidential candidate who is capable of leading our nation should something happen to the president preventing him from exercising his duties as POTUS?

While this is not an exhaustive list, needless to say, this is not a “one issue” election for Christians. As a means of summarizing everything in a succinct manner, I believe Allie Beth Stuckey has said it well:

I’m voting for babies in the womb, religious liberty, economic opportunity, school choice, secure borders, safe communities, and strong foreign policy. I’m voting for the policies that I believe are best for every segment of society. It’s that simple.

On or before November 3rd, I want to encourage you to vote for Donald Trump. I say that with biblical conviction and without the violation of my conscience. This election is historic and every vote matters.

Dear Christian, go vote. And if you vote for Donald Trump you’re not a racist, a white nationalist, white supremacist, a compromiser, or any other pejorative that progressives are seeking to use to shame Christians who are supporting Donald Trump. And, no you don’t worship Trump if you choose to vote for him to be our president. You’re a Christian who cares for future of our nation. For that, you have no reason to blush.

 

The Godly Order of a Plurality of Elders

The Godly Order of a Plurality of Elders

In many evangelical circles, there is no schism over the use of a plurality of deacons within the life of the church. Perhaps the only schism related to a plurality of deacons is in relation to their function. Are they servants of God who serve the local church or are they administrators who exercise power to oversee the local church?

As we read through the New Testament, we find that God established his church with a specific function and order. From the early pages of the New Testament, we find the apostles (with an “s” at the end) serving as a plurality of pastors to oversee the early church. As the missionary expansion took the gospel beyond the borders of Jerusalem (primarily with the ministry of the Apostle Paul), there was a need to put into order and establish the structure of the local church.

One clear letter that is devoted almost entirely to this task is the letter Paul wrote to Titus. Paul and Titus had a close relationship and it was Paul’s desire to charge this young man with a very important task. The island of Crete which was positioned in the Mediterranean Sea between northern Africa and southern Greece. The land mass was approximately 160 miles in length and 35 miles wide (at its widest point). It was an island that had been influenced by pagan cultures from the north, and according to Paul—it was filled with human depravity.

Titus’ job was enormous. He was given the responsibility to put the local churches in various cities throughout Crete into order. At this time, there was approximately 100 cities in Crete and Titus was charged with establishing order in the disorganized and immature churches. How would he do such a thing? Paul explains in what is perhaps the clearest purpose statement in Titus in the opening chapter:

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 (Titus 1:5).  

From the very beginning, we find the need to have a plurality of elders (pastors) serving in leadership roles in individual congregations. We see this all throughout the New Testament. For instance, we find Paul addressing the elders of the church in Ephesus in Acts 20:17. We find James giving instructions to those who are sick to call for the elders of the church in James 5:14. Even here in Titus 1:5, there seems to be an emphasis upon the appointment of elders in every town—or every church in every individual town.

Why would God establish a plan for his local churches to be led by a group of pastors as opposed to one single elder?

The Need to Share in Shepherding Burdens

The work of pastoral ministry is a difficult task. When you talk to families that have a husband or wife who works in law enforcement, you will often hear them talk of the darkness that follows them on a day-to-day basis. They are tasked with enforcing law which means they consistently deal with lawless behavior and witness some of the most horrific scenes of human depravity. Such a constant contact with such depravity results in a burden that has an impact upon the family as a whole.

In a similar way, the work of a pastor is taxing on the man who serves as pastor and the family as a whole. He is often asked to give of his time after normal daily work hours for counseling. He has to walk with families through both joyful seasons and depressing sins. Beyond the shepherding, there is a need to spend long hours alone—isolated from people in an office where he can read, pray, study, and prepare to preach the Bible.

Since we remember that pastoral ministry is more than a preaching ministry—the task is so large that it requires teamwork. God has designed it to be that way from the beginning and we can see this pattern throughout the New Testament. The church that believes their single pastor can do it all has underestimated the task of pastoral ministry or overestimated the ability of their pastor.

The Purity of Church Leadership

Pastors are not perfect men. They are men who are pursuing holiness and seeking to walk with the Lord, but they are not perfect men. They make mistakes in parenting, in life in general, and even in pastoral service. With a plurality of elders laboring together, it provides a built-in system whereby the leaders can confront and bring about necessary correction when a pastor shows signs of sinful neglect or indicators of rebellion.

Church discipline is something that is necessary and mandated by Christ for his church (see Matthew 18 and Titus 3). Within the church membership is both general members as well as two offices—deacon and elder. Everyone must be subject to Christian accountability whereby the bride of Jesus remains pure and the church avoids the stamp of hypocrisy within the community. This is God’s design. It’s likewise his design for pastors to be subject to correction as well.

The Order and Stability of the Local Church

One of the characteristics of our God is orderliness. The church on the island of Crete was disorganized and filled with disorder. It was the plan of the Apostle Paul to charge Titus with the responsibility of bringing about order and stability. His plan began with the appointment of faithful men who would oversee individual local churches in order to bring the church to unity in the faith and order.

The church had been plagued by loose living and heretical teaching. Therefore, the elders would need to teach the churches how to pursue holiness in everyday living and how to recognize false teaching that created division. If necessary, the elders would lead the churches to excommunicate people who persisted in sin after being corrected (see Titus 3:9-11).

God’s design for his church is unity and order which enables the congregation to accomplish the work of discipleship, missions, and faithful weekly worship of our God. A team of pastors laboring together will be able to counsel, confront, preach, engage in missions, and plan and establish orderly worship services that bring glory to God.

This is God’s plan for leadership in the local church. This is why every local church should desire to have a team of pastors who work together for the glory of Christ in the context of their local church.

 

The Impact of a Pandemic on the Local Church

The Impact of a Pandemic on the Local Church

Needless to say, the past six months have proven to be difficult for the functionality of the local church as a result of the pandemic. Regardless of where you stand on the issues from a political standpoint and whether or not you see this COVID-19 as a genuine pandemic—the cultural mandates have been impactful for the worship and functionality of the church.

As we look back over this season in our history, how will this COVID-19 season impact local churches as a whole? Although it has had a financial impact in some cases and brought about various different challenges, there are two distinct marks that COVID-19 will leave upon local churches.

Expose the False Believer

Many local churches have a certain number of members who are not true Christians. They come to church for various reasons. In some cases, it’s social and familial. In other cases, it’s traditional or financial. As we see in the parables in Scripture, not all of Israel was Israel. Today, we can certainly say that everyone claiming to be the church is not the church. In Matthew 13, Jesus tells a parable that involves good seed and weeds. The good seed represents the true believer whereby the weeds represent unbelievers. Often the weeds are among the good seed.

God can use persecution or pandemics to expose false believers. We are living in a day where some people have continued to keep much distance between themselves and their local church—although their lives have returned to normal on many different levels. When you see people returning to recreation, going on vacations, reporting to work, and yet remaining socially distanced from their local church and barring themselves from the Lord’s Table for 6 months—it appears that everything else is essential business except the church.

While attending a preaching workshop in Arkansas recently, one pastor was explaining to me that he expects that some of the people in his church will never return. He believes their faith was never genuine in the first place. Through this pandemic, it has exposed them as merely having a traditional habit of church attendance rather than a genuine relationship with Christ.  

Spiritual Maturity

The challenges faced by the pandemic has strengthened many people in the local church. Even the genuine believers who have not been able to return to normal life—including their church gathering. They have used technology to the best of their ability, made intentional connections with their church online, and refused to forsake the fellowship of the saints. Even through the challenges—they have experienced spiritual growth.

Through all of the fear and political jargon—many have returned to the assembly of their local church and their faith has been strengthened as a result. They have learned to have an increased trust in the sovereignty of God in the midst of the disease. They have likewise learned to live with the reality that we live in a fallen world filled with sickness, disease, and death. We will all die—yet we trust in the Lord for our next breath.

Some true believers have experienced spiritual growth by contracting COVID-19 and walking with the Lord through the process of disease and trusting in the Lord for restoration of health. This has been a means whereby families have had to learn to trust in our God and pray with hearts pleading for restoration. In some cases, their loved one has recovered while in other cases, they held the hands of their family member as they slipped off into eternity. Even then, the church looks to God and trusts that he guides and controls the steps of us all. Whether we live, or whether we die—we are the Lord’s.

As we continue to look to the future and navigate these challenges, may the Lord grant us patience with one another and wisdom to see through the political dust storm with clarity. As we make decision, may the Lord enable us to trust him as we return to worship and normal Christian fellowship in a way that honors Christ and shows the world what real fellowship looks like in the minds of confusion, isolation, and darkness. May God’s church shine brightly—like a city set on a hillside in the dark of night.  

 

What If You Only Had One Hour of Life Remaining?

What If You Only Had One Hour of Life Remaining?

That’s an important question to consider. Suppose you were informed that you would die in one hour, what would you do? Would you make a call to a close friend or family member? Perhaps you would sit down at your desk and write a letter to your family. How exactly would you spend that final hour of life? Needless to say, you would spend it differently than one of the common hours of your life. As we examine Scripture, we find statements that indicate that we as Christians are living in the last hour. What does that mean and how should we be living in these days?

Paul, in writing to the church at Rome, writes the following:

Besides this you know the time, that the hour has come for you to wake from sleep. For salvation is nearer to us now than when we first believed (Rom. 13:11).

Paul is pressing upon the church at Rome to see their position on the timeline of history. They were living between the first and second comings of Jesus. They were positioned at a time where the great promises of Jesus’ incarnation, his substitutionary sacrifice, his death and burial, his victorious resurrection, and his triumphant ascension had been fulfilled. They were living, according to Paul, at a time where they needed to wake up from sleep. How easy it becomes as a Christian to hit the cruise control and get into a rut whereby you live without urgency—forgetting the fact that we are living in the last days.

While no man knows the day nor the hour of Jesus’ return—the New Testament authors consistently pointed to the season of the last days and urged the church to live in light of the fact that the return of Jesus is near. In Romans 13, Paul speaks of “the time” in Romans 13:11. The Greek term he used there is “καιρός” which refers to a period of time or a season of time. In other words, Paul was urging the church to see the late hour and notice that Jesus could return very soon.

The Greek term eschatos means “last” or “final,” and the theological term that we often use to describe the study of end times is eschatology. It is the study of events leading up to and including the second coming of Christ and the conclusion of human history as we all know it. As we survey the New Testament we find other verses that indicate the reality that the early church believed they were living in the last days.

The writer of Hebrews directed the church’s attention to the Day of the Lord:

Hebrews 10:24-25 – And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.

Consider James’ exhortation regarding the coming of the Lord:

James 5:7–9 – Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door.

Consider Peter’s Words of urgency:

1 Peter 4:7-8 – The end of all things is at hand; therefore be self-controlled and sober-minded for the sake of your prayers. Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.

 Paul warned the churches to be prepared:

Philippians 4:4-7 – Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 – Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers, you have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, “There is peace and security,” then sudden destruction will come upon them as labor pains come upon a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.

If the writers of the New Testament believed they were living in the last days and urged the early church to be prepared for the coming of Christ—imagine what they would say to us in our day. We must recognize that the culmination of our salvation is nearer today than it has been since we first believed the gospel. Therefore, our lives and our worship should exemplify the fact that we are living in the last days!

While two thousand years of world history could pass before Jesus returns—it’s very likely that Christ could come before the sunrise tomorrow. Are you living with such expectation? After the ascension of Jesus, the angels commanded the disciples to go on about life the reality that Jesus would come again (Acts 1:11). Each and every time we observe the Lord’s Supper as a church—we look back at the death of Jesus and we gaze forward in hope of his soon return.

What if this was your last hour of life? Are you living with urgency or is your Christian walk categorized by complacency or laziness? Be prepared—for the coming of the Lord is at hand.

 

G3 2020 Questions & Answers Session

G3 2020 Questions & Answers Session

One of the highlights of every G3 Conference is the Q&A session. In fact, at each of the G3 events, we seek to have multiple Q&A sessions in order to connect the dots from theological depth to practical life circumstances. You will find the 2020 G3 Thursday Q&A session very helpful encouraging.

Reflections on 10 Years in the Same Pulpit

Reflections on 10 Years in the Same Pulpit

As I reflect this week on a decade of ministry with the people of Pray’s Mill Baptist—my heart is elated and filled with joy as I consider the privilege of serving the church where my wife and I grew up as children. When I’m asked about what it’s like to come home and serve in the context of the local church where we were nurtured and discipled as children—I explain by stating that it’s joyful, humbling, sanctifying, challenging, and fulfilling at the same time.  

When I arrived ten years ago, the church had gone through a rough season. I remember receiving a phone call from an older pastor in our community when he heard that I was being considered for the office of pastor. He called me and discouraged me from coming. He likewise encouraged a completely different ministry approach from the beginning that looking back would have harmed our church. You know what they say about unsolicited advice, right? It’s never asked for and seldom followed. I chose to go a different direction. I wanted to build stability, trust, and set the stage for longevity.

Through the years, it has been a joy to serve a church with such a high view of Scripture. If the Bible teaches something—the people within our church desire to obey.  That makes pastoral leadership joyful and effective at the same time. A high view of Scripture has enabled us to accomplish many goals such as church planting in the mountains of Ecuador, the establishment of a plurality of elders, the practice of biblical church discipline, and more. Having a proper view of God’s Word allows the church to accomplish big goals for the glory of God.   

When a church calls a younger pastor, often they fail to forget that just as you would expect younger men to grow in grace and mature in the faith—so must a younger pastor be afforded that same process. Unfortunately, many churches do not view pastoral ministry through a proper lens, and they become angry when their pastor makes changes or adopts a new position based on a theological conviction. This often creates division and perpetuates the statistics whereby pastors rotate from pulpit to pulpit every 2-4 years—dragging along their wife and children from church to church. I’m grateful that has not been my story. I’m thankful for our church’s patience with me through the years as I’ve adopted new positions, grown in my knowledge of Scripture, made my fair share of mistakes, and sought to grow in my ability to serve well from the pulpit and in the work of shepherding souls—which is the calling of a pastor.

The Scriptures say much about love (1 John 4:7), and I can honestly say that my family and I have been loved well within the context of our local church. In 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13, Paul encourages the church to have a proper love and respect for their pastors. He writes:

We ask you, brothers, to respect those who labor among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace among yourselves.

A church that loves their pastors will enable their leaders to serve them with joy which is far better for the life of the pastor, his family, and the entire church as a whole. Not only has the church honored me well, but they have loved me and befriended me. My closest relationships are within the context of our local church. That is something that I will cherish the rest of my life.

Longevity has afforded my children stability during formative years. It has allowed me and my family to model longevity by way of church membership—in essence practicing what I preach regarding a high view of membership and resistance against the prevailing tide of evangelical consumerism. While ten years sounds like a long time to some people, when you consider the fact that Adrian Rogers served in Memphis for 32 years, John Calvin served in Geneva for 25 years, Charles Simeon served in Cambridge for 50 years, Martyn Lloyd-Jones served in London for about 30 years, and W.A. Criswell preached through the entire Bible verse-by-verse as pastor of First Baptist Dallas, Texas for nearly 50 years—I have a way to go. Most recently, just last year one of my heroes in the faith, John MacArthur surpassed 50 years as pastor of Grace Community Church in Los Angeles. I’m grateful for a church that desires longevity from pastoral leadership as opposed to a rotating door. It’s good for pastors and the entire church family.

One of the greatest joys of my life is to serve with a group of faithful elders and deacons who love God, pursue holiness, and seek to lead and care for the church faithfully. When I arrived ten years ago, I was the “CEO pastor” who had a staff surrounding me. Today, we have a staff structure, but we likewise have a plurality of elders who oversee the church spiritually, lead from God’s Word, shepherd souls, engage in the work of discipleship and missions, and labor alongside a plurality of deacons to serve in practical service roles. To see the unity among a plurality of elders and a plurality of deacons is a tremendous blessing on my life and the life of our church family.

I am grateful for God’s immense blessing through the gift of my wife, Kari. We met as children in the church I serve now as pastor. Who knew that the adults were shaping and discipling a future pastor and pastor’s wife who would eventually return home and serve the body? It’s a story of God’s providence. Yet, not only has God gifted our home, but he has gifted our church with a pastor’s wife who truly loves the people and seeks to engage with other women as a means of friendship and Titus 2 discipleship. I consider myself to be doubly blessed. Kari is my wife and the mother of my children, but also a co-laborer in ministry within the context of our church. She’s one of the hardest working people I know.

As I look forward, I can only imagine what the Lord has in store for the future of our church. Many of the things we were able to accomplish in these last ten years I had set as goals from the beginning. However, the founding of G3 Conference which has exploded into a ministry that serves to encourage and equip the local church in sound biblical truth was nowhere on my radar screen. I continue to dream big, but more than that, I trust in a big God who has a much greater vision for the church than I could ever imagine or dream. I want his will more than anything for our church.

It is my prayer that our church family at Pray’s Mill Baptist will remain “steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Cor. 15:58).