I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. It is right for me to feel this way about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
Paul knows how to pray for churches. “That your love may abound more and more…and so be pure and blameless…filled with the fruit of righteousness…to the glory and praise of God.” That is a prayer for a people. I wish I had the maturity to pray like that more on my own. I praise God He has given us those words. They are my prayer for you now. I pray that our church would be a covenanted body of followers of Jesus Christ who will see love grow among us and flow out from us, that we are drawn into greater joy in Christ and hope in God, and that He would continue to strengthen us and purify us until we meet Jesus face-to-face, to the praise of His glorious name. Amen.
Please allow me to give you a brief personal update. Beginning next week, I will be out of the office for a time of spiritual renewal and family vacation. In other words, some work and some play. The first portion of my time away will be used to begin the formal ordination process through the Evangelical Free Church of America (EFCA, our “denomination” – although it is technically not a denomination, but a fellowship of like-minded churches). This mostly consists of reading several books on the history and doctrine of the EFCA as well as writing a lengthy theological paper based on our Statement of Faith that will be presented to and defended before a panel of EFCA pastors later in the ordination process. I will not finish the reading and writing during this week, but the concentrated time of study will give me a good start and I am hopeful I will make significant headway into the process, at least enough to make it manageable with my other responsibilities once I return.
The second portion of my time away will be a family vacation. We will spend time together, play together, relax, visit family and friends, and attend a celebration in honor of the 50th wedding anniversary of Holly’s grandparents (which is the reason for taking our vacation at this specific time). We are looking forward to this time and are grateful for it.
It is always strange for me to think about being away from our church family, especially on Sunday mornings. While I am looking forward to my vacation, I already know I will miss you. However, I believe there are also great benefits for both my family and for our entire church in a few Sundays apart. For me, I am confident it will only increase my desire to pursue Christ with you, preach God’s Word among you, and shepherd the flock of OSEFC toward hope in God. For you, I believe it will be good to hear God’s Word preached by different men. Three faithful brothers will bring messages from God’s Word in my absence. I am grateful for these men. It is a privilege and a joy to have time to be rejuvenated in preaching, knowing the pulpit is in capable hands. The preaching will be rich and God-exalting. I encourage you to make it a priority to hear it and worship God through it.
Lord willing, I will be there this Sunday to worship with you and then, next week, my family and I will leave for our time away. If you think of us, it would be a great encouragement if you would pray for us in the following ways:
- Pray that I would think clearly and God would give me grace in writing this theological paper. Words matter greatly, none more than those written about God, so I do not approach this task lightly.
- Pray for safety as we travel. Pray also that Piper would tolerate the drive to Colorado well. She’s young and does not like to sit in a car seat for long periods of time!
- Pray for my family, that we would be refreshed by time together and time to relax. Pray also that we would strike a good balance between filling our time with activities and leaving enough space to rest.
For the sake of His name,