Category Archives: Discipleship

Better to Honor God Than to Win

Here’s the guest post I was invited to contribute to the Family Ministry Today blog:

I love basketball and baseball. I love leaving it all on the court. I love the exhilaration of teamwork, the ball off the sweet spot, the basketball whispering through the net, the discipline to play defense, after-practice ground balls (or free throws), staying in the hitting cage until the hands bleed or the coach can’t throw anymore or the daylight is gone. And I love to win.

These things aren’t on the surface for me. They’re in me bone deep because they’re all wound up with my relationship with my dad. Growing up, my dad was my hero. He was also the high school basketball coach, and I think he worked (and works) harder than anyone else I know. My dad loved me and made sacrifices for me, and I wanted to please him. The best way to do that, I thought, was to lead the team my dad coached to the state championship. At some point, I think 8th grade, I promised I would do it: I told my dad that we would face Corliss Williamson’s Russellville Cyclones in the State Championship, and that we would win.

I failed. We weren’t even close. We didn’t even get to play in the state tournament my senior year. My mom was a great comfort in those days, and she had long been planting seeds, saying things like “basketball isn’t everything.” One day those seeds would bear fruit.

I’m sad to say that along the way I adopted an “anything-to-win” mindset. Thankfully, there were lines that I couldn’t cross, lines that have been obliterated at every level in recent years. Lines that only need the name Barry Bonds mentioned for you to know what I’m talking about.

I failed my dad, but even in failing to win that state championship, he knew I loved him. I said it with words. He heard it more clearly spoken by all those summer days in the gym doing dribble drills, shooting more shots than I could count (counting a bunch of them trying to track shooting percentage—I had this big chart on the wall in my room), running the stairs, working out in strength shoes, doing everything I possibly could to improve. I’d seen my dad work, and I did my best to follow in his footsteps.

One afternoon the summer before last my sons and I were playing wiffle-ball in the backyard with the kid who lives next door. Something happened that triggered a realization in my mind. Seeds planted by my mother, watered by the word of God, suddenly sprouted, pushing up through the soil of my thinking. I don’t remember if the game had ended and my son was on the losing side or if it was just a tight play that went against him, but he threw a fit like the world had ended and all was lost. I recognized the sentiments and the behavior, and I could tell you worse stories about my own actions when I was 15 not 5, things that took place in settings more significant than the backyard. Suddenly I knew, I think for the first time, what my behavior had implied, and what my son’s showed in that moment.

All at once I realized that the antics were announcing that the most important thing in the world was performance and the outcome of this silly game. As I took my son in my arms that afternoon, a phrase came to my lips that expressed something I should have known long before: it’s more important to honor God than to win.

If athletics are going to be anything other than a training ground for thuggery, athletes have to know that it’s more important to honor God than to win. For kids to accept the bodies they’ve been given and refuse performance-enhancing drugs, they have to know that it’s more important to honor God than to win. For us to be able to honor our opponents whether we win or lose, we have to know that it’s more important to honor God than to win. For sports and competition to bring out the best—rather than the worst—in us, we have to go at it like it’s more important to honor God than to win.

It’s more important to honor God than to win. If I love my dad by giving it all I’ve got, but I dishonor God along the way, all I’m left with is an emotional connection to idolatry—and the idol of sports and the relationships associated with it will let us down every time. But if I seek to honor my father and mother because I’m seeking to honor God, the emotional connection is not empty and hollow but solid and everlasting in its shared experience of the two great commandments. We love God by loving people, by playing hard, by soaking ourselves with sweat and disregarding screaming lungs and skinned knees and reaching, striving, straining, winning or losing, for the praise of the one who is worthy.

The great goal of competition is not, therefore, victory. No, victory must be redefined as winning or losing (with all our might) in a way that honors God, because it’s better to honor God than to win.


Filed under Bible and Theology, Discipleship

A Day in the Life of Jesus

On January 30, 2011 I had the privilege of preaching Mark 1:14–45 at Kenwood Baptist Church, “A Day in the Life of Jesus.”

In Mark 1:15 Jesus claims that the time is fulfilled (perhaps interpreting Daniel 9:24–27?) and that the kingdom of God is at hand. It’s a bold man who claims that his coming marks the fulfillment of the time and the arrival of God’s kingdom.

These are deadly serious claims. Mark presents Jesus claiming that the culmination of all that has preceded has finally arrived. The whole history of the world has been building, Jesus claims, to this moment.

Do you see this audacity? Do you see this boldness? This is no gentle Jesus, meek and mild. This is a Jesus who comes declaring that the moment has arrived. This is a Jesus who has gone into action with decision and firmness and resolve. This is a Jesus who has come as a peasant but who nevertheless talks like he is the world’s true King.

Do you know this Jesus? No, I mean do you know him? He will not be domesticated. You cannot tame him. His sails will not be trimmed and his rough edges cannot be sanded away. He confronts us as he is. Do you know him?

To know him is to bow. To know him is to be awed by his magnificence. To know him is to be owned by him. To know him is to feel in the depths of your being that he made you, that he sustains you, and that he can therefore command you to storm the very gates of hell and expect to be obeyed.

If you think you can have him as you want him, you don’t know him.
If you think you can line him up next to the other authorities in your life, you don’t know him.
If you think you can decide which aspects of his character you like and which you’ll disregard, you don’t know him.
If you think that he’s weak, let me assure you, you do not know him.
If you think he is optional. You certainly don’t know him.

Let’s get this straight, shall we?

Jesus of Nazareth is Lord of the Universe.

You are either a loyal subject of the world’s true King, or you are a rebel who will be crushed.

If you’d like to hear more about Mark’s presentation of “A Day in the Life of Jesus” from Mark 1:14–45, this link’s for you.




Filed under Bible and Theology, Discipleship, Jesus, Sermon Audio

Life Is Short, So . . .

A helpful reflection from Gunner on how we tend to respond to the vanity of our vaporous existence. Here’s a wisp of the breeze he’s fanning:

“My problem is that when Scripture talks explicitly about the brevity of life, it often emphasizes the opposite of our calls to ambitious action.

Take this morbid salvo from James: “What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes” (James 4:15).

How would you expect James to follow up that statement?

I believe the contemporary church has already answered that question (see above).

We are a people who can’t help but do. We hear something like, “Life is short,” and our immediate application is “Do better,” “Work harder,” “Sacrifice more.” Whether pleasure or service or mission, we remember that life is short and we instantly think: Act.

Now, this is all fine and good and (sometimes) scriptural. But it’s worth reminding that in James 4:13-16 James is rebuking presumptuous businessmen who are declaring precisely what we usually begin to declare in our hearts when we’re hit with the “Life is short” reminder.

“Life is short… I better start doing ____.” “Life is short… I better not waste my opportunity to ____.” “Life is short… I’m going to step it up and ____.”

But what does James actually say? “Your life is a vapor. Therefore, you should stop making ambitious declarations about what you’re going to do and instead acknowledge that God is the one in control. Wake up from your arrogance and remember — only with his explicit blessing are you going to do anything, much less do what you’re so confidently planning to do. You don’t even control tomorrow.”

Read the whole thing.




Filed under Bible and Theology, Discipleship


From the bottom of Challies A La Carte on Tuesday, January 18, 2011:

I know of nothing which I would choose to have as the subject of my ambition for life than to be kept faithful to my God till death. —C.H. Spurgeon

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The Most Important App Available

Fighter Verses for your mobile device.

Hide it in your heart. Talk of them when you rise up and lie down, when you sit in your house and walk by the way.

Don’t waste your life. And don’t waste the childhood of your little ones.


Filed under Bible and Theology, Discipleship, Gospel, Scripture

The Lord’s Supper in Paul

Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford have done us a great service in editing The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ until He Comes, which has just appeared from Broadman and Holman.

I’m honored to have contributed to this project, and I’m grateful that Broadman and Holman has kindly granted me permission to post my essay here:

The Lord’s Supper in Paul: An Identity Forming Proclamation of the Gospel,” pages 68–102 in The Lord’s Supper: Remembering and Proclaiming Christ Until He Comes, ed. Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford, NACSBT (Nashville: Broadman and Holman, 2010).

Patrick Schreiner has an interview with the editors.

Here’s the outline of my essay:

The Lord’s Supper in Paul: An Identity Forming Proclamation of the Gospel

1. Introduction

2. Problems in the Corinthian Church

2.1 First Corinthians 1–4, The Gospel Against Factionalism
2.2 First Corinthians 5–7, The Gospel Against Sexual Immorality
2.3 First Corinthians 8–10, The Gospel Against Idolatry

3. The Lord’s Supper: An Identity Shaping Proclamation of the Gospel

3.1 Anti-gospel Divisions
3.2 Proclaiming the Lord’s Death
3.3 Partaking in a Worthy Manner
3.4 Receiving One Another

4. Implications for the Contemporary Church

Here’s the Table of Contents for the volume:

David S. Dockery, “Foreword”

Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford, “Introduction”

1. Andreas J. Koestenberger, “Was the Last Supper a Passover Meal?”

2. Jonathan T. Pennington, “The Lord’s Supper in the Fourfold Witness of the Gospels”

3. James M. Hamilton Jr., “The Lord’s Supper in Paul: An Identity-Forming Proclamation of the Gospel”

4. Michael A. G. Haykin, “‘A Glorious Inebriation’: Eucharistic Thought and Piety in the Patristic Era”

5. David S. Hogg, “Carolingian Conflict: Two Monks on the Mass”

6. Gregg R. Allison, “The Theology of the Eucharist according to the Catholic Church”

7. Matthew R. Crawford, “On Faith, Signs, and Fruits: Martin Luther’s Theology of the Lord’s Supper”

8. Bruce A. Ware, “The Meaning of the Lord’s Supper in the Theology of Ulrich Zwingli (1484–1531)”

9. Shawn D. Wright, “The Reformed View of the Lord’s Supper”

10. Gregory A. Wills, “Sounds from Baptist History”

11. Brian J. Vickers, “Celebrating the Past and Future in the Present”

12. Gregory Alan Thornbury, “The Lord’s Supper and Works of Love”

13. Ray Van Neste, “The Lord’s Supper in the Context of the Local Church

Thomas R. Schreiner and Matthew R. Crawford, “Epilogue”


Filed under Biblical Theology, Books, Discipleship, Ecclesiology, Evangelism and Apologetics, Gospel, OT in the NT

Jason D. Mirikitani, Mile Marker 825

In this picture you see me and my friend Jason Mirikitani running the White Rock Marathon in Dallas, TX back in 1997. He looks happy and strong, and I’m suffering to finish! That brother carried be through that day. He stayed by me when he could have gone on ahead, finished the race, and gotten off his feet sooner. He laid down his life and suffered with me to help me finish. Praise God for such a friend!

Just under ten years ago, this dear brother was in a tragic accident. The delight of his eyes, his young wife of just over 3 years, was killed. He was in critical condition. Thankfully, their one year old baby was unhurt.

Miraculously, he lived. Miraculously, he walked again. Miraculously, he continued to trust God and give him glory. Jason is a miracle of God. He recently finished a degree at Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.

My dear friend Jason has now given us his story of faith being refined and purified through much affliction. Here is a modern day Job. I commend this book to you: Mile Marker 825: A Widower’s Survival and Resurrected Hope.

Christmas is just around the corner. This would be a great encouragement for a believer facing trials, and it’s a great testimony of God’s mercy and power for those considering the claims of Christianity.

Here’s the blurb I wrote for the book:

Peter likened tested faith to gold refined by fire. Jason Mirikitani’s faith has been refined by suffering, and now through smoke and flame he testifies. Praise be to the mighty God who sustained him in all his woe, and praise God we get to read the story.”

I received my copy on Friday, and my parents were in town this weekend. My mom picked up the book and didn’t put it down until she had finished the whole thing.

You can check out Jason’s website, or go to the book’s where you can download chapter one (put your cursor over the image of the book’s cover).

Or you can go straight to Amazon to get your copy, which I highly recommend you do.


Filed under Books, Discipleship, Gospel

In Houston This Weekend

Lord willing, I’ll be at Bethel Church Houston (formerly Bethel Independent Presbyterian Church) this Sunday, November 7, 2010. I’ll be preaching from Revelation 5 in their two morning services, and then at 5pm leading a Sunday Night Seminar on “God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology.”

If you’re in the Houston area, it would be a delight to see you again.

Amazon says that God’s Glory in Salvation through Judgment: A Biblical Theology has not yet been released. But, praise God, attendees of the Sovereign Grace Pastors Conference received copies earlier this week, and Bethel Church has boxes of the book available.

I still don’t have a print copy myself! So if you want a copy of the book, it appears that right now Bethel Church in Houston is the only place in the world where you can get it.


Filed under Biblical Theology, Books, Current Events, Discipleship, Education, For God's Glory in Christ by the Spirit, My Book

1 Peter 5:1-11, Shepherd, Submit, Stand

It was my privilege to preach at the installation of Ryan Bishop as the Pastor of Graham Bible Church in Graham, TX this past Sunday.

The apostle Peter, the rock, follows Christ by humbling himself to serve others, identifying himself as a fellow-elder as he exhorts elders to model Christ-like self-sacrificing shepherding (1 Pet 5:1-4).

Then he calls the congregations to Christ-like humble submission to authority (“I came not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me”) as he calls them to be subject to the elders in humility (1 Pet 5:5-7).

Peter then explains that Christ-like shepherding and Christ-like submission are enacted in Christ-like standing against Satan (1 Pet 5:8-9).

He concludes with a promise and a doxology (1 Pet 5:10-11).

Spurgeon, being dead, yet speaketh, and here are some of his eloquent statements that appeared in this sermon:

“It is not great talents God blesses so much as likeness to Jesus. A holy minister is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” (Lectures to My Students, 2).

On the pastor’s job description:

“To face the enemies of truth, to defend the bulwarks of the faith, to rule well in the house of God, to comfort all that mourn, to edify the saints, to guide the perplexed, to bear with the froward, to win and nurse souls—all these and a thousand other works beside are not for a Feeble-mind or a Ready-to-halt, but are reserved for Great-heart whom the Lord has made strong for himself. Seek then strength from the Strong One, wisdom from the Wise One, in fact, all from the God of all” (Lectures to My Students, 12).

On seeing the saints safely home:

“I am occupied in my small way, as Mr. Great-heart was employed in Bunyan’s day.  I do not compare myself with that champion, but I am in the same line of business.  I am engaged in personally-conducted tours to Heaven; and I have with me, at the present time, dear Old Father Honest:  I am glad he is still alive and active.  And there is Christiana, and there are her children.  It is my business, as best I can, to kill dragons, and cut off giants’ heads, and lead on the timid and trembling.  I am often afraid of losing some of the weaklings.  I have the heart-ache for them; but, by God’s grace, and your kind and generous help in looking after one another, I hope we shall all travel safely to the river’s edge.  Oh, how many have I had to part with there!  I have stood on the brink, and I have heard them singing in the midst of the stream, and I have almost seen the shining ones lead them up the hill, and through the gates, into the Celestial City” (source).

Have a listen here: 1 Peter 5:1-11, Shepherd, Submit, Stand

What is the greatest honor you can imagine? Perhaps the medal of honor given to an American soldier? The honor that Christ the King will bestow on those who served him faithfully so far surpasses that as to make the comparison of the two seem inappropriate. The church is God’s cause in the world. She is Christ’s own bride. The work done in the church has eternal ramifications and it pertains to all nations.

There is no other gospel that saves, no institution more significant, no agenda more important, no task more urgent, no cause more noble, no message more true, no office more dependant on the character of those who discharge it, and no reward greater than what Peter describes here.

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The Office at Redeemer

This is pure joy. Even if you don’t know these people, you’ll appreciate this humor.

Travis Cardwell writes:

Here it is. . . the video that introduced our Family Camp this year—an exclusive look at the elders ironing out the final details of our retreat.

Big thanks to Jason Allison for his wonderful work on this video. It could not have turned out better. Let me preface this video with a few things:

1) If you are new to Redeemer, this will become funnier as you stick around. . . and see how we are making fun of ourselves. If you’ve been around a while, prepare to laugh.

2) My son (Brayton) actually got hit will a baseball at Family Camp. He has still has the baseball threads on his forehead to prove it. You’ll see the irony when you watch the video.

3) No we are not endorsing the television show, The Office. We simply thought the format would provide a hilarious context to make fun of ourselves and get folks excited about Family Camp. I hope it worked!


Filed under Current Events, Discipleship, Ecclesiology

Interview with Dan Born, New Pastor at Believers Church, Hannibal, MO

I first met Dan Born when he was a student at SWBTS Houston, and he and his wife Jenn were also members at Baptist Church of the Redeemer there. He left Houston to study at SBTS, then when the Lord moved the Hamiltons back to Louisville, the Borns were still here. Soon after the Lord opened a door of service for us at Kenwood Baptist Church, the Borns joined and served in a number of ways. Among other things, they revamped the church website.

Dan has recently been called as the pastor of Believers Church in Hannibal, Missouri. I’ve known Dan Born and Ryan Bishop since they began their seminary studies. Both started at SWBTS Houston and continued at SBTS. It’s a special joy to see them both called to pastor in the same summer, and Dan kindly answered some questions about the congregation he now serves.

Tell us about Believers Church: When was it planted, what is the makeup of the congregation, where and when do you guys meet, and what makes it different from other churches in Hannibal?

BC was planted in 2007. We meet on Sunday nights at 6pm in the building of Hannibal’s First Christian Church. At BC, we’re focused on being gospel-centered, missional, and reformed. We’d also say that we’re people-minded instead of programming-minded.

Did you feel a desire to minister in Hannibal in particular? Why?

Yes. I can’t tell you how many times in recent years I’ve thought: “I wish I would have learned this when I was in college.” Well, Hannibal is where I went to college. I’m excited about coming back and getting to pour into students who will go back out all over Missouri, the US, and the world. I’m also ready to plant some more permanent roots and really get involved in a community. Hannibal is a place that I could see us staying for a while. It would have been really hard for us to miss the Lord leading us here.

What do you see as the greatest need at Believers Church?

The gospel. Our greatest need right now is the same as it’s always been – the clear and consistent teaching of the gospel of Jesus Christ as he’s revealed in all of Scripture.

What do you see as the greatest need in Hannibal?

The gospel. No matter how big or small the city, no matter its location in the world, it is filled with many people who need to hear the good news of the salvation we have by grace through faith in Christ.

Did the SBTS PhD program prepare you to pastor?

Even though I haven’t finished yet, it has certainly prepared me. One of the most profitable aspects of my education at Southern was that we weren’t simply taught what to think about the Bible. Instead, we were taught how to think biblically. I can’t overestimate how thankful I am to God for my time at Southern. Every aspect of my life, from my devotional reading to how we’ll parent our children, has been deepened and enriched by my time in Louisville.

How can we pray for you?

Pray for my transition from an academic environment to a pastoral ministry, pray for growing confidence in preaching, and pray for our continued trust in and reliance on the Lord for everything no matter what we’ll face in our new ministry.


Filed under Current Events, Discipleship, Ministry

He Being Dead Yet Speaketh

I’m not talking about Abel (Heb 11:4, KJV) but about A. T. Robertson, who now tweets on Twitter.

Lots of good quotes from a great scholar who loved the Lord and his Word.

HT: Chris Cowan

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Köstenberger Joins B&H Academic Editorial Team

Big news from B&H:

CONTACT: Jim Baird, B&H Publishing Group
(615) 251-2533,

Andreas Köstenberger Joins B&H Academic Editorial Team
Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary professor adds director of acquisitions title

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (August 2010) — B&H Publishing Group is pleased to announce the hiring of Andreas J. Köstenberger as director of acquisitions for its academic program. In a unique partnership, he will continue to serve as director of Ph.D. Studies and professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, North Carolina. Dr. Köstenberger also serves as editor of the Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society (JETS).

“When Dr. Thom Rainer assumed the role of president and CEO at LifeWay Christian Resources, he demonstrated his commitment to substantive academic publishing by creating the B&H Academic imprint. Since that time B&H Academic has grown in reputation and quality. As we continue t o prioritize the importance of academic publishing we have invited Dr. Köstenberger to join our efforts in acquiring significant authors whom God has gifted to help equip the next generation of leaders for the church,” says Brad Waggoner, president and publisher of B&H Publishing Group. “It is my firm expectation that Dr. Köstenberger will utilize his knowledge as a scholar and his expertise in leading others to enhance B&H’s commitment to and effectiveness in academic publishing for all of our colleges and seminaries and ultimately for the sake of the local church.”

Dr. Daniel L. Akin, president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, adds, “Andreas Köstenberger is one of evangelicalism’s finest New Testament scholars and a gift to our seminary. We are delighted to share this gifted academician with co-laborers in the gospel. This is a good thing for the work of the kingdom and the building up of the Church of the L ord Jesus Christ.”

Köstenberger states, “In light of the considerable resources it brings to the table, there is definitely a window of opportunity for B&H Academic (as) several major publishers have moved to the theological left in recent years. The first specific priority I see for B&H is to nurture a culture of academic excellence. We must make a case that biblical Christianity and excellence—in everything we do—are not only perfectly compatible; excellence is the only logical commitment for anyone who has truly understood the character of God and his calling on our lives.”

In addition to his classroom and editorial posts, Köstenberger is the founding president of Biblical Foundations, an organization with the aim of “restoring the biblical foundations of the home, the church, and society.”  He is also the author, editor, and translator of more than twenty books. Köstenberger will begin his work with B&H on September 1.


B&H Publishing Group produces Bibles, church supplies, and academic, reference, and trade books that are distributed worldwide. The company is widely known for the No. 1 New York Times best seller The Love Dare by Stephen and Alex Kendrick as well as popular titles from Beth Moore (Praying God’s Word) and Henry Blackaby (Experiencing God). Other leading B&H authors include Vicki Courtney, Priscilla Shirer, and Thom Rainer. Their Holman Bible Publishers division, with roots dating back to 1738, recently developed the highly regarded HCSB (Holman Christian Standard Bible) translation and is also the largest United States publisher of Spanish language Bibles.


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Graham Bible Church Blessed to Have Ryan Bishop

It was a joy to have Ryan Bishop serve Kenwood Baptist Church as Associate Pastor for Discipleship and Evangelism, and we are sad to see him move back to Texas. That sadness is mingled with excitement about the way the Lord will use him at Graham Bible Church, however, where he has answered the call to pastor. Graham Bible Church is blessed to have him as their pastor.

Ryan addressed us at Kenwood on his last Sunday with us, and his remarks modeled a Christ-like desire to shepherd, encourage, serve, and bless. Ryan’s comments communicate the way the Lord is at work, and it is so encouraging to see God do his work, conforming his people into the image of Christ. What the Lord does is so good it needs to be broad-casted, made known. Celebrating the work of the Lord only adds to his glory.

For that reason I wanted to post Ryan’s farewell comments here, and he kindly gave me permission to do so.

Here’s a picture of a pastor loving his people:

Ryan Bishop’s Goodbye to Kenwood Baptist Church

As Kelli and I have been anticipating our move to ministry in Texas, we’ve had a few weeks to reflect on the Lord’s kindness to us during our years in Louisville. We’ve been overwhelmed especially to think of our last year here with you. And I want to share with you some of the things we’re most thankful for in you.

First of all, I want to affirm God’s grace in you in the evidence I’ve seen in your salvation. God’s work is clear in your belief and love of the gospel. It’s been a tremendous privilege to serve as one of your pastors. I’ve had the opportunity to look out from the pulpit and in Sunday school class to see your sincere interest in the truth. You’ve come to me on Sundays and at lunches and called me during the week confessing your sin. And I don’t want you to take this for granted. This sort of behavior is not natural. We would not do this on our own. Desiring to live in light of God’s truth is an act of God himself. Another habit of yours is that you’ve counted others more important than yourself. Even this morning with the announcement of the elders’ recommendation to recognize the pastoral gifts and service of Mike and Ross—the way Kenwood is committed to raise up ministers of the gospel, some of whom very soon will go out to serve other churches in other parts of the world. I’m encouraged by God’s work to make you love the gospel and love others. My faith in Christ has been reinforced as I’ve seen you inconvenience yourself to come up to work on the building or reach out with the gospel to the community and to the University of Louisville. By God’s grace you’ve answered his call to live like Christians by caring for widows and orphans. The way this church has lived out the gospel in our commitment to adoption pictures our own salvation to all who watch the way God has loved us. I also need to mention the ways I’ve seen you suffer the loss of loved ones in a way that is distinctly Christian. So, Kenwood Baptist Church, on this last Lord’s Day we have with you, I want to affirm God’s gracious work of salvation in you.

I also want to thank you for the ways God’s used you to bless us. To serve the church, at the minimum, pastors must love the flock. This also should not be taken for granted. Just consider who pastors are—sinners, inclined to selfishness, not to see loveliness in others. And those we serve are sinners. Finding love in this combination is no less than miraculous. The Lord must do it, and he has. You’ve been an easy congregation for us to love. You’ve certainly loved us well. It was just a few weeks after we got here last year that you organized a baby shower for Kelli. You’ve cared for Caleb. When we’ve needed someone to watch our son throughout this year, it’s you we’ve trusted. Thank you for all the prayers you’ve prayed for us. You’ve become our home away from home, our family. And you’ve been the models we’ve looked to as Kelli and I seek to be a faithful wife and husband, mother and father. Thank you for letting us observe you and your families. Most of all, I want to thank you for the ways you’ve cared for our souls. God has shown us extraordinary favor in allowing us to sit under faithful, strong gospel preaching. So, thank you, Jim. And thank you to all who’ve served us from this pulpit. Thank you, Josh, for all the time you’ve spent shepherding us in your careful selection and singing of songs that are loaded with the truth that grows our love for Jesus. To those who’ve led us in prayer, thank you for challenging us to repent and believe. Of course, I’ve had an opportunity to participate in elders’ meetings. For those of you who may not know what happens there, let me tell you that your pastors are interceding regularly for you and plotting for your sanctification. To have these men as my pastors, my soul has felt safe.

Finally, I’d like to ask you to continue to care for us by praying for us as we leave. Pray for us to love and depend on Jesus. Pray that the wonders of his gospel would never become stale to us but that we would love it and proclaim it with all our hearts. Pray for us to love the congregation at Graham Bible Church unto death. That we would imitate you as you’ve imitated Christ in laying down your lives for the gospel. And pray that our marriage and family would commend the gospel to others.

We love you and leave with promises to pray for you.

Praise the Lord!

Only the Spirit of God produces this kind of love in a pastor and a church. Only the gospel results in things like this being said. The Lord does use human instruments to advance the gospel by the power of the Spirit, and it’s good to know where the Father is at work causing the gospel of Jesus Christ to prosper by the power of the Holy Spirit. For that reason, I note that Ryan Bishop completed his MDiv at Southern Seminary, and he was blessed by the pastoral internship at Capitol Hill Baptist Church.

May the Lord confirm the work of our hands, cause the Word to increase and flourish, and bless Ryan Bishop and Graham Bible Church.


Filed under Current Events, Discipleship