The Sum of It All

 

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Grace Baptist Church, Bluefield, WV (4th-6th Grade)

Ministry.  That really sums up my life.

Having grown up in a pastor’s home, that’s basically all I’ve known.

I have fond memories of moving from town-to-town in my school days.  (We lived in ten different towns and fourteen houses, and served in nine churches.) Although I did not like to leave my friends, I always made new ones in the next move.   And, oh the many precious souls who impacted our lives during those years!  How marvelous to see many precious ones of all ages come to the saving knowledge of Christ!  Oh, the joy of seeing answered prayer on so many fronts!

Of course, I remember many of the difficulties of ministry as well.  When I was in the third grade, the church took up a petition one Sunday morning while we were out of town and voted my dad out of the church. Why?  Because he preached salvation by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9), and my mother played the piano with too much gusto, or as they said, “She put too many runs in the piano.”

I could write a year’s worth of blog posts about ministry, but . . .

Ministry . . . is Jesus (Mark 10:45).

Ministry . . . is the continuation of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ (Acts 1-2).

Ministry . . . is following Jesus (Matthew 28:18-20; Luke 19:10).

Ministry . . . is making much of Jesus—-He’s the issue; He’s the complete reason; He’s the “celebrity;”  He’s the cause; He’s the only -ism; He’s the message (Colossians 1:15-18, 27-28).

Ministry here on earth has its share of delights and disappointments, fun and failure, joy and jams, selflessness and selfishness,  relationships and rejections,  blessings and battles, etc.

The only way to see ministry biblically fulfilled and to run the complete race of ministry until the Lord calls you Home is wrapped up in one word:  submit (Galatians 2:20; James 4:6-8; 1 Peter 5:5-10).  Submit every facet of ministry, including what is mentioned in the previous paragraph and . . . yourself to Jesus everyday.

John the Baptist said it so well when he spoke of Jesus, “He must increase; but I must decrease” (John 3:30).

That sums up ministry.

Tom & Roger

March 18, 2007, I stood on the parcel of ground where Oak Ridge Baptist Church is now located.  There, Pastor Tom Craig, Pastor Gary Ledbetter and myself gathered in prayer for the future construction of their church building.  As we joined our expectant hearts together before the Throne of Grace, we asked God to do a mighty work for His glory.  God answered our prayers as well as the prayers of a host of others. Not only was the building constructed, but greater still, lives were and continue to be transformed and built for God’s glory.  Tom was sure that would happen.  He discipled, loved, cared, and ministered the Word of God with grace and balance.

Interesting enough, that March 18th morning, another individual who impacted Gary’s and my life through his music, Roger Bennett, passed into the presence of the Lord after a long bout with leukemia.  The connection with Roger and his ministry team, Legacy Five, was the primary purpose for Gary and I being in Oak Ridge that weekend.  I remember walking into the Hampton Inn to meet Gary and his family on that Friday afternoon.  There in the front lounge area was Tom and Bobby cheering on their UT Vols in the college basketball tournament!  How surprised he was to see us.  He thought he had missed some conference in the area.  🙂

Tom and Roger, two men from two completely different ministry orbits, but today in the presence of the Lord! Both involved in a journey with cancer now forever over. How thankful I am for those the Lord brings into our lives to edify, encourage, exhort, and enjoy!  Thank you, Tom, for being such a man.  Gary and I will continue to sing and preach the Word until we join you on the other side.  Until then, My Hope Is Jesus.