Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

Looking back over this past week, there are so many grace blessings that my heart is overflowing.

Andrew, Dale and Mike


Last Friday, I had the privilege of participating in the funeral, and on Saturday, the burial committal service for a precious lady, Dixie Gouge. I wrote about it in last week’s post.  Another grace blessing from this event was serving together with two other pastors.  Mike Garland was baptized as a young man by father when Dad pastored Forest View Bible Church, Johnson City, TN, of which Ralph and Dixie Gouge were members.  Mike is also a nephew of the Gouge’s.  The other pastor is my son-in-law, Andrew, who is our assistant pastor at BCBC.  What a joy to stand between these two men that have special ties to my heart!  God is so good to let you clip such blessed grace coupons! 

Two hams!


What a special treat to minister to our neighborhood, especially the family next door to us. Their two precious children come to our home every week for Bible club.  They are our adopted “grandkids” and are such a blessing to our hearts.  Here we are having some silly fun time!

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Mr. D doing what Mr.D does best!!

Pioneer Children’s Club, Wednesday nights: How grateful to be in the midst of people who love children and demonstrate a passion to see them be more than just good kids; better yet, godly kids.  Even better is the passion of Mr. D who wants to see these precious children and their parents come to Christ for salvation!  He is faithfully out knocking on doors and doing bus visitation on Tuesdays in preparation for Wednesday nights!

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Apples of Gold Decor

Apples of Gold Ladies Mentoring Ministry: Last Saturday, we hosted twenty people at our home for the AOG Celebration Dinner. My wife had every decorated so beautifully.  She and her helpers prepared delicious soups, salad and desserts. What a special blessing it was to eat outside, and then to be gathered around the fire pit sharing testimonies and singing songs under a starlit sky.  God is so good!

Clippin’ Grace Coupons in Ministry

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Life is all about the grace of God.  We do not deserve anything except hell because of our sinful state.  But in His grace, God has provided salvation for all men (John 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 2:1-4, 8-9; Titus 3:5).  Then, in and through His grace, He provides so many undeserving gifts everyday of our lives (John 1:16-17; Ephesians 2:4-7).  How easy it is to dwell on all the bad around us that we forget to focus on the grace of God which is transcendent over all (Romans 5:20).  So with that in mind, my goal for Friday’s blog is to share with you from a pastor’s heart some of the “grace coupons” in ministry that I’ve been able to “clip” over the past seven days. So here we go!

  1. Worshipping on Sunday at Boones Creek Bible Church! One of the many true blessings of a Sunday at BCBC is joining with our congregation as they sing.  With raised voices, uplifted hands and glowing countenances, praise is abundant!  Many Sunday mornings on my way to church I find myself saying, “I can hardly wait to sing with my brothers and sisters in Christ today!”   Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God (Colossians 3:16).
  2. Seeing ladies cry out in prayer, singing, and worship as they joined together for three hours in the presence of the Lord at BCBC. You can read a bit more about it on my wife’s blog post Friday Favorites.
  3. When I was an earlier teen, my dad pastored a church here in south Johnson City, TN. Words cannot describe what a grace blessing it is to be living and pastoring in the same area that has always been so special to me.  When we moved here from Bluefield, West Virginia, two men, Stacey Tester and Ralph Gouge, came from Johnson City to assist us.  They made a huge impression on me.  Stacey and Ralph have since gone on to Glory, but today, I have the privilege of participating in the funeral for Dixie Gouge, Ralph’s precious wife.  Furthermore, Ralph and Dixie’s daughter and three of their children are part of the BCBC family.  Also, I saw Ralph and Dixie’s son this week which was the first time since we moved away.  As we sat in the Gouge’s living room and reminisced about our time here and about my parents, I thought, “Lord, how good you are to me, and how good to be still connected to my dad’s ministry in such a blessed way!”
  4. Joy in ministry is often mixed with sadness and sorrow as even mentioned above. Yesterday I stood by the bedside of a dear man whose body is riddled with Alzheimer’s. His wife has faithfully stood by his side and cared for him with love and great compassion for several years.  With Bernice on one side and me on the other, we shared Psalm 23 and then sang several songs:  In the Sweet By and By, When the Roll is Called Up Yonder, Heaven Is a Wonderful Place, Until Then, I Have Found a Hiding Place, and others.  As a pastor, I am so grateful for the opportunity to minister the balm of God’s Word and the blessed encouragement of song that gives encouragement for today and expectation for the future.  It is all by His grace!
  5. Finally, there’s the blessing of preaching and teaching the Word of God!! Currently, I am preaching through Revelation . . . the revelation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  How timely; how sobering; how hope-filled!

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ . . . . To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved.  (Ephesians 1:3, 6)

Presidential Candidates & Church Ministry

69 and 70.  That’s the ages of our current United States of America presidential candidates.  That’s retirement territory.  That’s well within the AARP range.  I have to step back in a bit of amazement that one of these two older people will hold the highest office in the land with ALL of its responsibilities and expectations.

That brings me to an interesting set of comparisons between a man chosen for the presidency of America and a man chosen for the pastorate of a local church.  It all begins with this thought—

  • For a man to be president, he must have years of experience; but for a church seeking a new pastor, they usually want a man who is young, energetic, educated, and full of new ideas. By the time a pastor reaches his middle fifties, most churches seeking a pastor are not interested because he is too old, and the pastor is not interested because he is too tired.
  • For a presidential candidate, he is not even thinking of retirement. He is, in his sixties and seventies, crisscrossing the United States with “guns blazing” ready to win the election.  An older pastor is slowing down with an eye on retirement.
  • For the presidential candidate, he has fresh ideas of how to “make America great again.” For the older pastor, he tends to just want to hold on to tradition, to what’s comfortable and just bide his time.

This also has application to the members of the local church.  I have never understood the mentality of when you reach your 60’s and start attending the Senior Saints class that it is time to stop serving and “let the younger folks do it.”  Oh, how wrong!  Look at the following passage:

But as for you, speak the things which are proper for sound doctrine: 2 that the older men be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith, in love, in patience; 3 the older women likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things— 4 that they admonish the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, 5 to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be blasphemed. 6 Likewise, exhort the young men to be sober-minded, 7 in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, 8 sound speech that cannot be condemned, that one who is an opponent may be ashamed, having nothing evil to say of you. 9 Exhort bondservants to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back, 10 not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity, that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things.  (Titus 2:1-9)

I do not see anything here that even gives the impression that when a believer reaches a certain age he is entitled to come to church and just sit.  Very clearly, though, we see that the older are to teach the younger.  And that is precisely the biblical model . . . older individuals training, discipling the younger. Sure, many folks in their 60’s-90’s cannot keep the pace of a younger individual, but they have much wisdom to impart.  Therefore, invite a younger man or woman to your home to disciple and train in

  • Teaching a Sunday School class
  • Cooking and hospitality
  • Serving as a deacon
  • Ministering to children
  • Parenting
  • Wood-working or some other skill
  • Finances
  • Being a godly husband or wife

So, my encouragement is, older pastors, keep on keeping on!  Stay fresh in the Word and on your knees!  Don’t grow old and stiff and “stuff-shirted.” Find a young man and pour your life into him.  Love him and show him the blessings of ministries.  My dad always said he like to have younger people around him because they made him feel younger.

Aged believers in Christ, “be like a presidential candidate.”  Invest in the lives others rather than believing you are entitled to retirement in your “rocking pew.”

So even to old age and gray hairs, O God, do not forsake me, until I proclaim your might to another generation, your power to all those to come. (Psalm 71:18)

The righteous flourish like the palm tree and grow like a cedar in Lebanon. They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, to declare that the Lord is upright; he is my rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him. (Psalm 92:12-15)

So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. (2 Corinthians 4:16)

Friday’s Findings

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Every Friday, I am sharing some blog posts that I have come across in the past few weeks that I trust will be beneficial to you.  As I’ve noted on my blog site, what I am doing is from my heart.  I want to help and encourage us to keep on for the Lord and to enjoy all that He has for us here while we wait for the best life to come!

Three Simple Pastoral Priorities – Excellent counsel and transparency from Cary Schmidt for pastors.

13 Ways You Waste Your Money – Tim Challies give some very practical thoughts and cautions about money.

Husbands Pray With Your Wives – Good article and so helpful.  Men, please read.  Thanks, Wendy, for your insight and help in homeschooling years ago.

This-N-That: 56

When I was kid, I thought anyone in their 50’s was old; anyone in their 60’s were really old; and anything beyond that was ancient!!  Well, today I am celebrating 56 years of life which moves me closer to the 60 mark.  As I consider the fact that I have more years in my rearview mirror than the front windshield, many thoughts come to my mind.  Most days I don’t feel old; I’ve gotten through recent surgery, and I’m ready to start running again; many times I still think I’m 30 something.  Nevertheless, the finish line is getting closer if the Lord permits me to live to 70 or more, or the Rapture doesn’t occur in my lifetime.  With that in mind, today causes me to consider the following:

  • By God’s grace, I want to stay faithful to Christ, my wife, my family and my Christian family.
  • I want our marriage to grow sweeter and sweeter each day as we grow older. May we never get calloused, uncaring, mean-spirited, or withdrawn.  Keep us warm and tender toward each other, holding hands, finger-dancing, winkin’ and smoochin’ until the end!!
  • Oh, how I long and pray that my daughters and sons-in-law are used to the hilt for God’s glory, and I will hear God’s “Well done” spoken to them at the Bema!!!!!!
  • I don’t want to grow old and be grumpy! May the joy the Lord be my strength!
  • I long to see the power of God moving through the local church in such a sweeping way that souls are saved and believers are extremely passionate about Christ, His Word, and sharing/living the gospel.
  • May I not be so stiff and rigid and wound up that I miss out on laughing and crying and rejoicing in all the good things that God has given and wants us to enjoy.
  • In the rest of my years, I long to see a huge number of souls truly come to Christ and be genuine, sold-out believers; followers, not fans!
  • May the impact of the Bema loom over my life in such a way that I finish strong!
  • I long to see my neighborhood follow Christ!!
  • I want to be used of the Lord for His glory and for souls until the day He calls me home!
  • May my heart become more and more tender and sensitive to the things of Christ and to people. Help me, Lord, to see the sheep as You do.
  • Lord, teach me to pray.
  • May I continually run to Christ.
  • Help me, Lord, to know when it’s time to move on. I never want to go down with a sinking ship because I won’t let go.
  • Keep me balanced, Lord.
  • I want to memorize more Scripture. If I can worry, I can memorize.
  • Let me run until I’m 70! Hike until I’m 80!  Race around Bristol when I’m 90!!  And jog the streets of gold when I’m 100!!
  • May the UK Wildcats win the NCAA basketball championship each year!!!! #BBN
  • Don’t let me miss out on any senior discounts! 🙂
  • May Dunkin Donuts Coffee keep America running!
  • I want to keep a burning heart for Christ, His Word, and the local church, His body!

So, so much to be thankful for in my past!! God has been so very good to me!!  The truth is, every day is getting better and the best is yet to come!! Click on the following link and see why:  What A Day That Will Be

Blogging in 2015

As I mentioned yesterday, a special thanks to everyone for reading this blog.  My heart is to simply use this medium of the internet to share things that I love about life and ministry.  Hence, I am refining this blog to cover certain topics each day of the week that I hope will edify and encourage; that will lead to biblical change; that glorify God; and that will show that life is worth living because of Christ.

So, be looking next week for the following:

To the People in the Pews (Mondays) This will be a follow-up to the messages I preach on Sundays with the purpose of helping my congregation make the needed application and taking the next right step in wisdom.

The Making of a Man (Tuesdays) I have such a burden to see men be the spiritual leaders at home, church, work and recreation; to win over sin; to be men of the Word; to be gospel-centered and gospel-communicators.

Marriage Matters (Wednesdays) Being married for over 33 years does not make me an expert on this subject.  I simply love being married, believe it to be the best thing next to my own personal salvation, and am very concerned about the lack of strong marriages in our world today.  Hence, I’ll be sharing all kinds of tips to make marriage a blessing instead of a dread.  Marriage matters to God; He created it.  He has an awesome plan to make it work for His glory and our good . . . and to be fun!

This-N-That (Thursdays) Here’s a day to share various things on my heart about life in general.

Friday’s Findings (Fridays)  I’ll continue to share links to good articles, tell you about a good book or resource, share music, and various other things that I trust will be of interest to you.

Looking forward to 2015 and all that the Lord has in store for us of which may be the year of His return in the clouds (John 14:1-6; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).  Therefore moving forward, let not your heart be troubled (14:1) and comfort one another with these words (4:18).

Friday’s Findings

Why I Stand With the Five Houston PastorsPaul Chappell’s spot-on post about the sermons subpoena in Houston.

Christian Guide for Reading the NewsZach Franklin gives us a redemptive way to read to all the bad news in the world in print and through social media.

Millennials Want Something Real, Not Just Hashtags and Twitter

Why You May Be Tempted To Neglect Your ChurchEncouragement and insight on the need of getting back on the team!

Five Bad Substitutes For DisciplineExcellent counsel for parents!

Red Skelton’s Pledge of AllegianceA classic.  I remember watching him when I was young.

A Great Way to Start Your Week!

There is no better way to start a week than to attend church and have the joy of worship with other believers and especially your own family! Recently while purchasing a cup of coffee, the girl behind the counter made a negative comment about the fact that it was a Monday! For the believer, our week begins with the celebration of our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, through local church worship! What a way to start a week!

Yesterday was an extra special day as Boones Creek Bible Church celebrated 58 years of ministry. Here’s some of the highlights:

  • Baptism of a new convert who trusted Christ as his Savior and Lord on Tuesday morning visitation. To see his joy when he came up out of the water was priceless. Then to look out and see his wife’s reaction added to the blessed joy of the moment!
  • The study of God’s Word in Sunday School using the Answers in Genesis material for children through adults. Sure enjoyed the questions, discussion and joy of this class I teach. They are hungry students to learn!
  • The work of our children’s SS teachers. Their heart for the kids to grow in Christ is so evident. Their decorated rooms are so inviting! Thank you for giving of yourself to the Lord and these children! Thanks, too, to all the nursery, Children’s Church and Tiny Tots workers!!
  • The teen ministry as we watch them mature in Christ under Andrew and Alli’s leadership! Loved seeing them seated on the front row yesterday morning, listening, worshipping, and learning!
  • The hospitality tents this morning that welcomed everyone to the services. Great job, David! Also, all the greeters who were ready and willing to serve at the Welcome Center!
  • The anticipation of everyone coming to see what God was going to do in the services!
  • Hard to beat the singing and music at BCBC! Love to watch and listen to the congregation as they lift their voices to the Lord! The choir and the Larson family “knocked it out of the park”!!
  • How marvelous to see visitors that our people had worked so hard to invite attend the service.
  • There is such joy in preaching the Word of God, verse-by-verse, as we work our way through Philippians! The Word works!! How blessed to pastor a congregation that wants to grow and change!
  • What a special moment it was to recognize the Carter’s who gave the land to the church and have been faithful members for 58 years. They have served so many!! Also, we recognized the charter members, including the Carter’s, and especially Emma Sue Glass who is the oldest living member at 95 years old and still cuts her grass!!
  • Further recognition was given to all who had trusted Christ as Savior in the last year as well as all who had started attending BCBC since last October. Now, that was a great moment right there!!
  • The meal in the gym was fabulous! Thanks to Renee and Karen for their leadership in getting the gym in harvest mode!!
  • A special thank you to all who worked behind the scenes to make the day what it was!
  • An extra heartfelt thank you to the congregation for their kind and gracious gifts for Pastor Appreciation! You all are the best!! Denise and I are truly honored to serve the Lord here with you all! As we continue on for Him, let’s keep our sole focus on the Gospel which will produce past, present and future rejoicing!
  • And so much more!

So, has your week started with a “Monday”? No, the week has in truth begun on Sunday, a day of joy and celebration! The same God who met with us yesterday at church is there to meet with you all day today so you can enjoy fellowship with Him. His invitation is continually, “Come unto me” (Matthew 11:28). Have an awesome Monday!! Your week started yesterday!!

Eat All You Want Church

While driving through a nearby town, I read the following on a Bojangles Restaurant board, “Sunday Buffet, 11-2, Eat All You Want.”  This got me to thinking about what happens in churches across the country every Sunday from around 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. or so. Every Sunday when you attend Sunday School and the morning and evening services, the following ought to be true:

1.  The teaching in SS and the preaching in the services should be a buffet that is well-prepared, presented and prayed over.

Therefore, the pastor needs to spend time alone with the Lord early in the mornings each day to know the heart of God and His Word.  He must pray through the passages that he’ll be preaching from in the coming days.  He needs to study the text, dig for the meaning, seek the Spirit of God to reveal the Truth, and come to the “table” ready to deliver the goods!

If Bojangles invites you to eat their food until you are full, they had better have the food prepared.  So should the pastor and teachers.

2.  The attenders should want nothing more than to leave having eaten all they could hold.

Now, since losing my weight, I do not have the capacity to eat like I used to.  There were years that buffet and happiness were synonymous in my book.   Sad to say, too many Christians have a greater capacity to eat temporal food than they do eternal manna.  Hence, it’s like the old hair gel commercial’s tag line, “A little dab will do you.”  We eat hardy at the world’s tables, but are satisfied with a light snack of God’s Word.  The reason I return to a restaurant is due to the good food.  When I heard a restaurant I love was opening in my town, I was excited!  We should be in the Word so much outside of church that when we attend, we eat until we are full and are looking forward to the next time!

Think on these truths:

Psalm 19:7-11

7 The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul;

The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple;

8 The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart;

The commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes;

9 The fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever;

The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether.

10 More to be desired are they than gold,

Yea, than much fine gold;

Sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb.

11 Moreover by them Your servant is warned,

And in keeping them there is great reward.

 

Psalm 119:97, 103

Oh, how I love Your law!

It is my meditation all the day.

How sweet are Your words to my taste,

Sweeter than honey to my mouth!

 

Jeremiah 15:16

Your words were found, and I ate them,

And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart;

 

So, are you faithful member of the Eat All You Want Church?  I’ll pray, prepare, and present; you eat all you want!

10 Things I’d Do Differently if I Weren’t a Pastor Today

Today’s blog post is one I wish I could put my name on.  It’s as though he has read my mind, and the mind of countless other pastors, especially the first three paragraphs.  Please do not pass by on this read today!  By the way, there is no agenda behind sharing this post other than what my blog is all about, “From a pastor’s heart.”

I spent most of my adult life outside vocational ministry. I’m amazed at the opportunities God has given me in ministry, but in many ways I am still a newcomer. I have just over a dozen years in this career. It’s challenging in some ways, because I see things differently from some who have only done ministry, but it also gives me a unique perspective from some pastors. I sat “in the pew” far longer than I’ve stood “behind the pulpit”.

One thing my experience has done for me, especially since I’ve become a pastor, is to help me realize how much I didn’t understand about being a pastor. Like the feeling that work is never done. Like feeling you are never really “off”. Like knowing people are going to be upset with every decision you make — and balancing whether to move forward or give into their frustration. Like the pressure of “Sunday’s coming”. (Pastors — know that one?) Like carrying the weight of everyone, but sometimes feeling you’ve got no where to share your own struggles. Stuff like that. The “fun” stuff I didn’t know prior to being in ministry. Plus, in the business world, we handled problems so differently from how they are typically handled in ministry. A lot faster sometimes.

I also spend a lot of time investing in other pastors. It fuels me personally. I’ve learned some of their challenges. Some of their concerns. Some of their wishes.

Along the way, I’ve learned some great lessons of what it takes to build a healthy church — many I didn’t previously understand — even though I was very active in the church. Things look different looking at the church from this perspective.

So, if I were ever on the other side again — and I was back “in the pew” — I’d change a few things about myself.

Here are 10 things I’d do differently if I weren’t a pastor today:

I’d make church attendance a priority. I’d build my week around the services of the church, knowing how vital every person is to the body. I’d understand what an encouragement it is to the pastor when people give the same priority to church that they give to other places in their life.

I’d love my pastor. I mean really love my pastor. Knowing how many expectations are placed on the pastor, I’d be among the group that’s always ready to help, but, recognizing he’s only one imperfect person, not one to get my feelings hurt if the pastor didn’t do everything I hoped he would.

I’d be a generous giver. Understanding that there are really a small number who financially support the work of the church, I’d be a Kingdom investor.

I’d be an ambassador for the church. I’d use my influence in the community and where I worked to bring people to church and Christ. I’d look for people I didn’t know on Sunday mornings and try to help them acclimate to the church.

If I had a problem with the pastor, I’d talk to the pastor. Not his wife. (That’s always a bad move.) Not other church members. Certainly not the community.

I’d try to get less upset about things that impact only me — that are mostly matters of personal preference.

I would pray bold prayers for the church. Daily.

I would support the pastor and his family. I would understand he couldn’t be everywhere, and never make him feel guilty for not being where I hoped he would be.

I would smile when he preaches. I’d give visual witness that I was paying attention. I might even say “Amen” when appropriate. Oh yea..definite amens.

I would serve where needed. In fact, I’d volunteer without being asked.

(Written by Ron Edmondson)