August 31, 2023

Good morning Church family, 

Today I would like to open my heart to you, no sense in hiding it! I hope that this journal will give you a snapshot into myself so that you can know me better. It’s difficult to shepherd a Church of our size in intimate ways but I desire to do this. And it’s essential that I do since pastoring is ‘being an example to the flock’ (1 Peter 5:3). 1 Timothy 4:12 tells Pastor Tim to  “let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.” Yet to set that example is a real challenge for larger Churches (I know many of you think our Church is small!) where the pastor(s) can’t intermingle with every person. Notice that the pastor is told to set an example in speech and that example will travel the furthest through his preaching/teaching ministry. So that’s first, speech, especially because he will be speaking the Word of God and the Word of God is the catalyst for Church growth and health. But then 4 more descriptions follow that which will gain the ears & respect of a pastor’s listeners: ‘conduct, love, faith & purity.’ Try listening to a pastor who you know not to be loving, faithful or pure. Try listening to a pastor even who does speak the Word of God well yet who’s conduct has appalled you. You won’t. Therefore, my speech, my sermons, & my opportunities to teach, rebuke, exhort and encourage you all is only as powerful as my life that follows behind it.

I’ve heard from many people who have told me how they couldn’t listen to or learn from their former pastor because his actions, or lack of purity lost their respect. On the flip side, I’ve heard many people boast of their pastor’s teaching because they respect the guy. They stop caring how he sounds. They want to learn from him because they respect what he says because they respect him. 

This is the aim of pastoral ministries, balancing good true words with a true and loving life. Yet showing you my life can be hard, especially in the more privatized society in which we live. Yet this public and intimate example set by the pastor is taught through and through the New Testament. For instance, 

Paul who told Timothy to shepherd God’s flock by verbal and active example modeled the same thing for Timothy as he said,  “You, however, have followed my teaching, my conduct, my aim in life, my faith, my patience, my love, my steadfastness” (2 Tim. 3:10). Therefore, Timothy was told to shepherd Christ’s Church just as he had experienced pastoral care from Paul. 

In Hebrews 13:7, it repeats the same idea, but written to the Church, now: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the Word of God. Consider the outcome of their way of life, and imitate their faith.” 

You hear me speak the Word of God mostly on Sundays, but how about the outcome of my way of life, my faith, my purity, my conduct, my love? Hopefully you will see all of these things eventually from me by God’s grace. However, I think it will be proper and helpful to share with you a journal post I recently wrote that digs into my heart behind preaching and developing sermons. My desire is that you can see some of the purity that God the Holy Spirit is working in me with the hope that you continue to pray for me that God would sustain a pure heart in me. I believe with all my heart that what you need most is a pure heart and pure hearted minister so that we all can grow genuinely together in Christ and say confidently yet humbly, ‘follow me as I follow Christ.’ (1 Cor. 11:1). I pray that you can follow me as I follow Christ, but for this to happen, I must follow Christ and love Him with pure motivations. It’s too easy not to do so (1 Cor. 3:3-5). 

Therefore, let me, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:2, “…by an open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” And 2 Corinthians 6:11, “we have spoken freely to you, Corinthians; our heart is wide open…” 

So with that, here are the reflections of my heart from about a week ago. This is ‘my heart wide open:’

“It is true that the greatest way to preach is by internalizing the message of the Gospel for yourself. I was recently enamored and blown away with excitement and befuddlement over the greatness of God’s salvation. Of course, I was preaching on it. But more than the informational complexities of that salvation, I began to discover the emotional elements of this salvation which I believe maximized the delivery of my sermon. Yes, of course, I studied the truth and mechanics of God’s salvation carefully, but the truth sparked emotion and gratitude in my heart as I studied and studied it more and more. And it was the simple truth that I wouldn’t need to study afresh for information sake which provided perhaps the greatest element of the sermon, an applicational element: Here is it: 


How happy are we in light of our salvation? In any other sphere besides spiritual salvation, which is also physical salvation, we would be THRILLED if somebody just saved us from a lion attack, or from a car accident, or from a terrible fall or from being lost out at sea. That type of salvation makes one go to a new high of joy! Yet when it comes to our salvation from Hell, our salvation from judgment, our salvation from a condemnation that makes us guilty, we as Christians often gloss over that and forget that we’re even saved! 

If we remember that God has saved us from the worst reality in the world, we will surely be glad. It must be the greatest aid against depression. It must be the greatest medicine against sadness. There are many things that will pull us down in life, but we are saved by Christ alone and that means that we are safe. 

Praise You, Christ, praise You! 

To my own chagrin, I admit that it can be hard to “own a sermon.” And by owning a sermon, I mean that I own nothing but God owns it all because to preach a sermon is to faithfully communicate God’s Word and Himself, not me (2 Cor. 4:5). 

Yet it can be difficult to internalize the truth of God’s majesty when studying to preach. And when I lack an experience with the greatness of my God and lack the impact that His truth has brought to me, then I lack communication skills. However eloquent I can speak, I lack in my ability to preach if God’s greatness has not penetrated my dull heart. 

So God help me! Always help me! Don’t let me drift away from thankfulness and sensitivity to Who You are and how great You are!” 

Sincerely with Christ’s love, 

Aaron

From Pastor Aaron

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