Seven Seconds

I played a recording of my dad today on my phone, an old voicemail that I have saved all this time. Even six years after he made it, I’ve kept it. It’s only seven seconds long, but to hear his voice, even for that short bit, well, it’s soothing and encouraging on occasions like seconds-droste-clock-time-minutes-hours-spiral-1752164today. Today would have been his 76th birthday and on some days (like today), I miss him more than others. He was my father, yes, but as we got older, he became my counselor, my friend, and especially my hero.

My dad was a hero when this former tough guy walked forward down the aisle one day in his church to receive Christ, got baptized immediately, and then served the Lord the rest of his life without ever looking back. He was a hero when, with tears of joy in his eyes, he walked my sister down that same church aisle to be joined to her groom. He was a hero when he preached only twice, and both times doing a horrible, awful exegesis but gave a message that was forever memorable because of his uncontrollable sobbing out of gratitude towards his Savior. He was a hero when he sang a solo with all his heart the simple words to “It is Well With My Soul.” And he remains a hero in my last memory of him sitting in his wheelchair scooter waving goodbye as I looked through my rearview mirror as I left in my rental car to the airport.

What’s amazing is how precious that seven-second recording is to me. A couple of times a year, I play that voicemail recording, a simple “hey Fran, this is your dad, call me when you can, bye-bye.” Over and over again, I play it just to hear his voice, his familiar intonation that reminds me of the many conversations we had from a distance. It’s that same soothing voice that had reminded me through the years of his favorite Scripture verses of Philippians 4:8 and Isaiah 40:31, words of wisdom when I saw how tough life could be. It’s that voice I miss.

Seven seconds is all I have, but I praise God that I even have that. Even more, I praise God that in the big picture, seven seconds is nothing compared to the eternity that he is spending with his Savior right now, an eternity that I will one day enjoy with him as well. After all, seven seconds is nothing compared to the eternity of God’s glory, because it will be well with our souls.

Happy Birthday, dad. I love you and miss you.

Your son,

Fran

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A Bullish Sacrifice

Have you ever heard the expression, “like a bull in a china shop” before? The expression brings to my mind the image of a person recklessly breaking precious dishes and cups as he or she rushes through the store to get to wherever he or she is going. This expression is almost always used in a very negative sense, of course, but I think that there are times when the person who is the “bull” has no clue that others are hurt. In other words, the sins of a bull can be unintentional.

This image makes me think of a bull in a slightly different way. In the Old Testament, when an unintentional sin by either the priest or the people was committed, repentance and restitution needed to be made. The Law of Moses was very specific on how to do this and by whom this sacrificial offering was to be made:

Leviticus 4:2-3, “Speak to the sons of Israel, saying, ‘If a person sins unintentionally in any of the things which the LORD has commanded not to be done, and commits any of them, if the anointed priest sins so as to bring guilt on the people, then let him offer to the LORD a bull without defect as a sin offering for the sin he has committed.”

Of course, we live in the age of the New Covenant, yet there is an application here for God’s church. Our unintentional sin which results in pain might even result in death, and while we don’t sacrifice too many bulls today, perhaps we need to be more aware of that serious damage that our sins might bring to others.

51039207_eb853788fd_bJames 1:19 tells us that we should be “quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to get angry.” Unfortunately, we have seen quite a bit of the opposite in our nation and social media, yet we as Christ’s church need to be different. This is not the time to be callous or bullish to our traditions, practices, and structure, especially if it gets in the way of our task of reaching people. This is the time to do what our society has not been willing to do: denying ourselves and following Christ in all things. in other words, people should know you less for your political rhetoric and more for your commitment to speaking the words of the gospel.

So we are left with a choice before us: are you a bull, stubbornly charging, creating discord, and making all sorts of noise for no eternal meaning or purpose? Or are you going to be different: humble, caring, and willing to see people as Jesus did? Even more, are you willing to build bridges and even to deny yourself to serve God no matter what it takes? The way of the bull is sinful and leads to death and the way, the greater way, leads to life. Sacrifice your bull and deny yourself. Take up His cross.

Choose love and life. God would have it no other way.

In Him,

Pastor Fran

How It All Fits Together

We all have seen it: when talking about pastors, deacons, and the ministry of the church, there are many applications on a local church level. In my own research on deacon ministry, for example, I found as many varieties of deacon ministries as I did churches!

However, there’s a couple of questions for ministry that should always be asked:

  1. Is it biblical?
  2. When applied, is it sustainable?

Here’s a brief summary of the various duties of church members as seen in Scripture (these references are not an exhaustive list):

  • Ministry of the Pastors– the pastors primarily preach, teach, oversee, and minister to the spiritual needs of the church (1 Tim 3:1-7, Titus 1:5-16, Acts 20:28, 1 Pt 5:2).
  • Ministry of the Deacons– the deacons primarily care, visit, serve the poor, and ministering to the physical needs of the church (Acts 6:1-7, 1 Tim 3:8-13).
  • Ministry of Teams– the ministry teams primarily reach, teach, fellowship, worship, serve, and pray for the work of the gospel (Eph 4:11-16, Ex 18:17-26).

The model might look a little like this:

god-centered-church

So how does this work together? First, all ministries at First Baptist Church submit to the Scriptures for all guidance and practice. Second, all ministry leaders abide by the decisions of the church, knowing that the church is the Bride of Christ. Third, the support for one another in various ways will assist each another in their ministry functions and gifts. But last, these three areas (pastors, deacons, ministry teams) will help the church as a whole get healthy and be able to attend to physical, emotional, and spiritual needs of each other and of unbelievers.

Balanced ministry, biblical ministry, led by pastors, served by deacons, ministry in the teams. In a quick summary, this is how we do it.

Pastor Fran