At the beginning of the year, I was blessed with the gift of several days to retreat and spend time with God. During these days I felt the compelling invitation to jump back into the Gospel of John, to read again the great story of Jesus. I must confess that after only a few verses, I got stuck.
I was asked to give a talk recently on forgiveness. There was nothing new or special about it, as I have taught on the spiritual necessity of forgiveness many times!
Towards the end of a home remodel project, I was leaving a furniture store with a new table destined for the house Janet and I had been updating with my sister and brother-in-law. While driving out of the parking lot, I unexpectedly found some deep happiness coming forth, but not for any reason I would have previously thought.
“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
I read this today and it hit me. The last thing Jesus says in the book of Matthew is one of the most important things we need to recall to thrive in ministry today: “I am with you.”
Overseas missions. Church planting. Raising third culture kids. These were among the very topics Ted and I discussed on our first date, not knowing we would quickly tie the knot just 6 months later. On our seminary campus, we were well known to be the couple who would succeed overseas as career missionaries. Our hearts for the nations were what brought us together. I was even the proud first recipient of the seminary’s missionary loan repayment plan.
We excitedly left beautiful Massachusetts on a cold winter day in February 2002 for a week-long cross-country drive in our 1992 Honda Accord to a foreign city named San Jose.
Today I am sitting here at my computer remembering a great man.
“Grandpa Peters” followed Jesus with his whole heart. His love for Jesus worked outward to include a powerful love for the church.
My entire life Pastor Russ or as we loved to call him “Grandpa Peters” was a solid fixture of faith and wisdom. He lived out life with the people in his church, preaching every Sunday, officiating weddings, and providing comfort at funerals. He was truly a “fixture” of the community, a man who lovingly noticed the lowly and invested his love – and more importantly the love of Jesus – into any who crossed his path.
It’s time for the church to reclaim her voice in the world. –Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Hey pastors and friends!
I want to personally invite you to our upcoming Preachers School in Redding, CA, this coming November. Twenty five students. Three days. One purpose. To strengthen our preaching voice, to refine our theology, to fuel our creativity, and together, to tell and retell the story of God in the most redemptive ways possible.
At the heart of this course is the conviction that preaching still matters. In an age of opinions, confusion and skepticism, perhaps preaching has never mattered more. God is raising up voices on the earth, each one unique and vital to the church and the world. They will preach the gospel, stir the hearts, equip the body, and help the church transition from old failing paradigms to engage God’s future kingdom. The redemptive story of God is unfolding on the earth like never before, and if we get a group of us in the same room to listen, dream and explore, who knows what will happen.
Beyond the experience, our desire is to cultivate a family of preachers. Too often, we as leaders become isolated in our own ministry worlds, limiting our influence by our own choice. Yet, Preachers is an opportunity to lock arms with others, gaining access to a family of voices in today’s church and culture. We are always stronger together.
For those called to lead and preach, consider joining us this coming November 5th-8th. We are offering Half Off Scholarships worth $375 for all pastors, church planters, or emerging leaders within the CPD. For more information, see below or visit our event page.
Next Generation Leadership
Just a few weeks ago I had the honor of traveling to Chico with our Stirring team. Nathan led us in a day of reflection and dreaming about life, ministry, and Jesus.
After listening to each other we prayed and spoke words of life and encouragement. When my turn came one of the other staff members said, “Jim, you are not stuck!”
I love tattoos. For me, they are symbols of the journey that I am on with God and with family. They mark my life…telling a story of values and encounters.
When you think about it…we are all marked. You may not have tattoos to display your journey, but your heart surely carries the marks of a journey lived and marked by key events that shape your story.
There are a number of different perspectives when it comes to holiness and seeking a closer relationship with God. Phil Rehberg is a regular contributor to our blog, and he takes a thoughtful look at the question, "How Can I Be Filled With God?" I trust this is helpful for your walk as you desire to draw close to Him.
- Ray Van Gilst