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My 3 Pastors

October is Pastor Appreciation Month.

I don’t know who decides these things or the reasons behind it. And I run the risk of sounding prideful for even mentioning it, but allow me to defend the purpose for my blog post. So, read this post in its entirety before assuming I am patting myself on the back.

The Bible teaches that a church is to be led by a plurality of elders (Acts 11:30; 14:23; 15:2, 4; 21:18; I Timothy 5:17; Titus 1:5; James 5:14). In short, when a church is able, there should be biblically qualified men (plural) who rule and shepherd the church (I Timothy 3:1-7; Titus 1:6-9).

While there can be and usually is a leader among those equals, the biblical model for church government is a plurality of elders.

Now, what this means in a tangible way, or what it should mean, is that no elder (or pastor) should be without another pastor. In a church with a plurality of elders, the elders are pastors and those pastors have pastors to shepherd them.

At Wichita Bible Church (WBC), where I have the privilege of serving, there are 4 elders. Other than myself, their names are Mark, Warren and Grady.

When someone asks, “Are you the pastor of WBC?” I respond, “I am one of them.” I do not believe biblically that shepherding a church should ever be left to one man, and I am thankful to have a team of shepherds (elders) that I co-labor with.

Now, back to Pastor Appreciation Month.

As I pastor, I am also a sheep in need of shepherding. I need pastoring. And I have 3 of them in my life. I want to show my appreciation to them in this blog post by sharing why I appreciate their friendship and leadership.

Warren, Mark and Grady are humble. One of the 1st things I noticed about these men when I started candidating at WBC in 2013 was their humility. They were quick to admit their shortcomings and failures in leadership. They were not ashamed to speak about their need to grow and mature in a variety of areas.

Warren, Mark and Grady love the Bible. They are governed by its instructions, direction and mission. When we jokingly say that “Bible” is our middle name at WBC, we mean it. It starts from the top down. These men are regularly evaluating the ministry of WBC by what the Bible says. They hold me accountable to preach accurately the Bible to our people.

Warren, Mark and Grady are friends. We meet once a week on Monday nights, see other on Sundays, and minister together in other venues. We go on retreats at least once a year. We attend conferences together. We have dinners and lunches and breakfasts with one another. These men are dear friends. They have earned the right – by their godliness and their wisdom – to speak into my life whenever they want to.

Warren, Mark and Grady are teachable. Perhaps this is just an example of humility, but I love that these men are always wanting book recommendations or to have doctrinal summits together (all day meetings where we study a doctrinal issue together). They are men who are not content to remain in one place in their understanding of Scripture or their relationship with God. They want more.

If I were writing Epistles today, like Paul, I would quickly mention each of these men at the end of my letters, like Paul did with his co-laborers and ministers of the Gospel (Romans 16:21; Ephesians 5:21; Philippians 4:7-13).

I could not serve as Teaching Pastor at WBC without them.

I love Warren, Mark and Grady. And for Pastor Appreciation Month, you need to know these men – who are my pastors – are worthy of our commendation.

 

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Some Free Seminary Training from The Master’s Seminary

Did you know that you can take seminary-level classes online for free from The Master’s Seminary, where John MacArthur is the President?

For preaching, you can view the course “Expository Preaching in the Psalms” by Dr. Steven Lawson.

For New Testament studies, you can view the course “New Testament Survey” by Dr. Keith H. Essex.

For Old Testament studies, you can view the courses

For pastoral ministries, you can view the courses

For theology, you can view the courses:

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A Prayer For My Boys On Their First Day of School

Father in Heaven,

Thank you for always being faithful. There has never been a moment where You broke a promise, changed your mind or deviated from Your Word. Your faithfulness is one of the many reasons we come you in prayer for our needs.

I thank you for your faithfulness to my family. You have always been a Good Father to my children. Despite my sins and foolishness, You have preserved them and blessed them in more ways than I am capable.

On this day, Father, I ask for Your grace.

As my boys return to school, I ask that You preserve their mind. I ask as they hear anything that challenges the sufficiency of Your Word, that You would protect them from being deceived.

I pray as they interact with boys and girls that their integrity would not falter.

I pray that you would encourage and bless their teachers with wisdom, quick-thinking, fairness, and strength.

Father, please use this school year to be a period of growth in my boys. Help them progress towards a deeper knowledge of You.

Father, you can use anything as an instrument of accomplishing Your will. And as my boys travel back to schools they have grown to know, I pray You would use those institutions – in ways only You can achieve – to learn to love you more.

Please help Annie and I to be intentional in our conversations with them about their school day. Help us to ask the right questions about their day and their interactions. Help us to be good listeners as they express their victories and defeats.

Thank you. Father, for education. Thank you for giving all of us – parents, grandparents, our church, our schools – the responsibility of teaching.

In Jesus name, Amen.

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Happy 40th BD to Andrea Heck

Happy 40th birthday to my bride, my best friend, my sister in Christ, and my companion in life. In honor of her on this occasion, here are 40 things I love about being married to Andrea.

  1. Her smile that greets me throughout the day
  2. Ability to ask perceptive questions
  3. Patience with my sins and shortcomings
  4. Consistent nurturing of our 3 boys
  5. Love for reading books that challenge her
  6. Quick to listen
  7. Flexibility and willingness to adjust to my unpredictable schedule
  8. Eagerness to trust God
  9. Brutal honesty
  10. Outward beauty from head to toe
  11. Hearing her sing
  12. Communicates clearly and often
  13. Absence of gossip and complaining
  14. Follows her conscience rigorously
  15. Content in all circumstances
  16. Excels in counseling others
  17. Creativity and excellence in preparing meals
  18. Servant-driven
  19. Sober-minded
  20. Possesses discernment
  21. Committed to teaching younger women
  22. Honoring of those older than her
  23. Genuinely friendly
  24. Better skier than I
  25. Faithfully submissive
  26. Forgiving
  27. Wise with money
  28. Habitually sacrificial towards others
  29. Integrity
  30. Seldom idle
  31. Not a friend of ignorance
  32. Keep the world at arm’s length
  33. Deep thinker
  34. Pragmatic
  35. Example of modesty
  36. Hard working
  37. Careful with her tongue
  38. Immovable in her convictions
  39. Absence of trivial things in her life
  40. Being married to her for 16 years

 

It’s a Joy To Be a Dad

“Grandchildren are the crown of the aged, and the glory of children is their fathers.(Prov 17:6)

We just returned from a family road trip to CA, where we drove around a total of 3,000 miles in a rented mini-van. Our 3 boys have never been on a road trip of this length, and we were uncertain how they might respond to the challenge of being in a vehicle for an extended period of time, with stretches of less-than-exciting scenery.

But they did just fine. We were equipped with road trip games, snacks, books, movies, frequent stops, etc.

One of my takeaways from spending an extended period of time with my children is how rich of a blessing they truly are. Sure, there are bad attitudes at times, or mean comments between them or petty arguments or or inconsistent obedience, but the joy of being able to share a life with a child is incomparable.

What I will remember the last few weeks with my kids is not the grumpy expressions standing in a long line at Disneyland but the expression of delight my youngest (Ethan) had when he rode his 1st wave on a boogie board in the Pacific Ocean. I will remember my middle son’s (Josiah) enjoyment of ride after ride, as he ran off the rides at Disneyland or Universal Studios pumping his fist in the air wanting to do it again. I will remember my oldest son’s (Jackson) one-liners at random times that kept us entertained.

Children add a level of joy to your life that only God can be credited for. Thank you, God, for kids. And thank you for my 3 boys. I am truly honored to be a Dad.

Reflections on 15 Years of Church Ministry

About 15 years ago, right around this time, Andrea and I were on our way to Tulsa, OK to begin working in youth ministry. Today, I am the Teaching Pastor in Wichita, KS. A lifetime of experienced have been gathered in this 15-year span, and here is just a sample of lessons I have gained.

  1. God’s designed the church to be a kaleidoscope not a collection of clones. While we are all made in the image of God (Genesis 1:27), and are one in the body of Christ (Romans 12:5), there is a variety of maturity levels and areas of giftedness in the local church. Some struggle in the same sins that others have continual victory over. Some people value a particular author that others don’t enjoy. Some grew up a few miles from the church; others moved to the United States just a few years ago. Some are wrestling with questions like, “Where does evil come from” and others are working on the question, “Does God love me”? God loves variety in the local church.
  2. If you preach the Word, it will do what it promises to do. I have learned to live with many things (that are not essentials) in church ministry and seen the Word of God change hearts. The Word of God is living and active (Hebrews 4:12). It will soften hearts. It will move people in a specific direction when taught accurately and applied rightly. Trust God’s Word and preach it when people want to hear it and not hear it (II Timothy 4:2).
  3. I am not as dumb or as smart as I think. Just when I think I “nailed it”, I am reminded of how far I need to go. And just when I think I completely bombed, God uses me to bless someone else.
  4. God can and does use me for His pleasure despite my sins, inconsistencies and weaknesses. That is the beauty of God’s sovereignty. He uses us, but doesn’t NEED us. His ways are always perfect; our ways are always flawed. If God can use a talking donkey for His pleasure, He can certainly use this jar of clay (II Corinthians 4:7-9).
  5. Sanctification is a community project. When God saved me, He didn’t save me to myself. He put me into the body of Christ. I need my church to help me become holy. Their encouragements, criticisms, gratitude, “push backs”, praise, invitations, emails, handshakes, etc. all help develop me into the man of God I need to be. I won’t become holy without them (I Corinthians 12).
  6. Senior Christians are undervalued. Too often, and to our shame, we don’t expect our senior saints to contribute to the local body. We encourage them to hit cruise control, lean back in their pew (or chair) in the service, be a spiritual sponge, and keep all their wisdom and spiritual insight to themselves. We need our older Christians if we want to be more faithful in disciple-making (Titus 2:2-8).
  7. Home is my Sabbath rest. I love coming home. Even when I open the door and hear the boys running circles in the living room with their light sabers and see Annie hiding in another room with her ear plugs in – I love coming home. Home is an escape from the pressures and stresses of ministry. Home is where my heart enjoys being and my family rejuvenates me in all kinds of ways to serve the church.
  8. God has never disappointed. Sure, there are times when I have asked him, “Why did you let that elder die when we needed him” or “Why did you allow that church to split?” But I have never been disappointed in His sovereignty. He knows what He is doing (Romans 8:29-30).
  9. Prayer is my fuel. Without prayer, I am apathetic, slow, impatient, harsh, and critical. When I see Paul showing thanks to God for a church like Corinth, I get fired up to pray for others.
  10. The whole counsel of God needs preaching. It’s easy to preach a Gospel or a short book like Philemon or Jude, but there is tremendous value (II Timothy 3:16-17) in preaching a series in the Minor Prophets – which I have yet to do. There needs to be teaching on the book of Deuteronomy – which I have done. There needs to be preaching from the Song of Solomon – which would be an interesting experience. All of it needs to be taught (Acts 20:27).
  11. I read to know that I am not alone. Ministry can be incredibly lonely. Even if you serve with a great team of elders, which I do, ministry is often one-way. There is a lot of shepherding and equipping of others, but few take the time to shepherd and equip you. That’s why I love to read. Some of my shepherds sit on my shelves in my office, and I value their speaking of life to me (II Timothy 4:13).
  12. What I think about God is the most important thing about me. Tozer gave me that thought about 20 years ago when I read The Knowledge of the Holy. My view of God changes everything about me – how I approach each and every one of my own sins, how I husband, how I father, how I preach, how I show hospitality, how I vacation, etc. I want to know more about God today than I did when I first placed by faith in Him (Philippians 3:10).
  13. I am still in the classroom. Just because no professor is overseeing my assignments doesn’t mean that school is over. Church ministry is more of a school than seminary or college ever was. There are tests and quizzes every day. There are questions and answers. There is dialogue and debate. There is non-stop learning.
  14. Criticism is inevitable. Leadership invites a bull’s-eye on your back. When you stand in front of others, you are, at best, a sinful, imperfect leader. I have made unwise decisions; I have said erroneous and foolish things. I will continue to fall short in my communication the rest of my life. On the other hand, I have said what needs to be said. I have preached hard truths. There will always be people in ministry that won’t like how you lead. How I respond to criticism (Ephesians 4:29) says more about me than the fact that I actually receive criticism.
  15. God does not need me. He is all-powerful; I have limitations. He is everywhere; I am in one place. He knows all; I forget stuff every day. He is eternal; I had a beginning. He created the world I live in. He gave me spiritual gifts I didn’t earn or deserve. He softens the hearts I preach to. He gave me words to impart. He is doing just fine without me.