WHEN OVERLOOKING IS NO GLORY

How To Avoid Denial When Someone Offends You

My last post urged fighting anger by choosing magnanimous forgiveness whenever possible when someone sins against you.

Proverbs 19:11 applauds that kind of covering-a-multitude-of-sins love.

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense.”

Choosing to graciously forgive an offense with no need to confront the offender is a beautiful thing–a glory. And the gospel compels us to do so often.

There is, however, a danger worth noting inherent with this virtue.

Toy forklift hold letter block d to complete word avoid on wood background

In the name of overlooking we can actually shut down in silence and even file the offense away for later use.

Ken Sande rightly labeled that “a form of denial that can easily lead to brooding over the offense and building up an internal bitterness and resentment that will eventually explode in anger.”

I get this form of “peacefaking” all too well. My inherent loathing of conflict can deceive me into a faux-overlooking that is no glory at all.

Pastor Alfred Porier, in his excellent book The Peacemaking Pastor, prescribes two helpful diagnostic questions to help avoid this mistake.

Question #1: Is the Offense a Persistent Sin?

Galatians 6:1-2 speaks to this: 

“Brothers, if anyone is caught in any transgression, you who are spiritual should restore him in a spirit of gentleness. Keep watch on yourself, lest you too be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens , and so fulfill the law of Christ.”

Paul pictures someone sinning habitually as trapped like an animal in the wild. The law of Christ’s love demands a spiritual process of restoration for that person’s welfare to help free him from sin’s grip.

When you encounter an offense that is an ongoing, spiritual problem, it is no glory to overlook; it’s a lack of love.

Question #2: Is the Offense Hindering My Relationship?

If the matter keeps invading your thoughts and alters the way you interact with the offender, you likely need to address the situation in love.

Poirier gives himself a two-day test:

If I find myself frequently reflecting upon my brother’s or sister’s sin for more than two days, if it is there when I rise and when I go to sleep, if I think about it while I am showering and when I am driving, and if I am reticent to greet this fellow believer at church, then I cannot overlook the offense. I must address the matter with the person (139).

Either way–overlooking with magnanimous forgiveness or confronting with truth in love (Eph. 4:15)–fighting anger in the face of offenses is a matter of wisdom, choosing one or the other with God’s help.

Question: What’s another sign which helps you know when you cannot overlook an offense?

You can leave your comment below.

THE BEAUTY OF OVERLOOKING

Fighting Anger with Magnanimous Forgiveness

A Google search of royal jewels yields, among others, Queen Elizabeth’s Imperial State Crown.

Imperial_State_Crown

The crown is set with 2868 diamonds in silver mounts and colored stones in gold mounts, including 17 sapphires, 11 emeralds and 269 pearls. What a glorious treasure that must be to behold!

Proverbs borrows that kind of imagery to describe a figurative glory to behold–overlooking personal offenses. I’m talking about Proverbs 19:11: “Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it his glory to overlook an offense.”

The word “glory” is the same Hebrew term used in Proverbs 4:9. “She [wisdom] will place on your head a graceful garland; she will bestow on you a beautiful crown.”

When we choose forbearance in the face of insults by granting unilateral forgiveness of wrongs without confrontation, Scripture likens that to wearing a priceless tiara–a glorious crown. It makes us spiritually beautiful!

In this introductory post about this virtue for peacemakers eager to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace in their churches (Eph. 4:1-3), please note that there are three essentials to grasp from the text.

The Aim Is Good Sense

The Hebrew is variously translated discretion, wisdom, understanding, and insight. The book of Proverbs champions this pursuit as priority-one in life. “Good sense is a fountain of life to him who has it, but the instruction of fools is folly” (16:22).

Wisdom is a moral issue won or lost on the battlefield of human relationships.

Group scream

The Enemy Is Anger

Proverbs warns often about this nemesis to a life of wisdom, pleading for long-fused restraint in the face of wrongs.

“Hatred stirs up strife, but love covers all offenses” (10:12).

“The vexation of a fool is known at once, but the prudent ignores an insult” (12:16).

“Whoever is slow to anger has great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (14:29).

“A hot-tempered man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger quiets contention” (15:18).

“It is an honor for a man to keep aloof from strife, but every fool will be quarreling” (20:3).

“A man of wrath stirs up strife, and one given to anger causes much transgression” (29:22).

The takeaway is obvious: the more you are given to outbursts of anger the greater your distance from genuine spiritual insight and discretion.

Bible text - YOUR SINS ARE FORGIVEN

The Answer Is Forgiveness

Overlooking offenses means regularly choosing magnanimous forgiveness in the face of wrongs without ever talking to an offender. I plead with others all the time: “Please do not be easily offended. Overlook sins in others–a lot!”

It takes love which covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8). Ken Sande explains a crucial distinction about this glory and the ultimate inspiration for its power:

Overlooking is not a passive process in which you simply remain silent for the moment but file away the offense for later use against someone. That is actually a form of denial that can easily lead to brooding over the offense and building up internal bitterness and resentment that will eventually explode in anger. Instead, overlooking is an active process that is inspired by God’s mercy through the gospel. To truly overlook an offense means to deliberately decide not to talk about it, dwell on it, or let it grow into pent-up bitterness (83).

How do you know when not to overlook an offense? Stay tuned for my next post!

Question: What is a challenging offense for you to overlook and why? You can leave your comment below.

HAPPINESS IS BEING A PEACEMAKER

Why Jesus Stressed Peacemaking in Our Pursuit of Happiness

I majored in theater at Penn State back in the day.

My favorite show was “You’re a Good Man Charlie Brown.” I played the lead role—the blockhead himself—Charlie Brown. Type casting no doubt!

The musical’s theme song, “Happiness” features a litany of things from pizza with sausage to climbing a tree that make for true happiness.

But Lucy and Linus join voices with the best lyric in the tune singing, “getting along.” Happiness is getting along.

It reminds me of a sermon Jesus preached about happiness. He proclaimed nine virtues which make for kingdom happiness called the Beatitudes (Matthew 5:2-12). Each begins with the word “blessed.”

The seventh focuses on the joy of getting along in relationships. “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God” (5:9).

Happy, fortunate, enviable—all synonyms for “blessed”—are those who determine to get along with others whenever possible and help others do the same.

Conflict impacts everyone. No one escapes differences which can lead to relational breakdowns.

Danger Mines Sign

I get this. In only my second elder meeting at my new church recently, I stepped on a conflict landmine. A lack of sensitivity on my part about a painful conflict in their past history ended a way-to-short honeymoon. Sigh.

It happens to all of us–even guys who dare to write books on preserving unity! Oh the irony. What to do? I asked the Lord to help me gear up once again as a peacemaker. I suspect it won’t be the last time either.

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus stresses that true happiness belongs to those who prioritize pursuing peace with others–no matter how often they must do so.

Other New Testament texts echo this. The apostle Paul pleads, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18). The writer to the Hebrews exhorts, “Strive for peace with everyone, and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14).

Why is peacemaking a kingdom of God true happiness virtue? The answer comes in the rest of Matthew 5:9— “for they shall be called sons of God.”

Working hard at maintaining oneness and repairing brokenness—whether with family, friends, or adversaries–gets us the blessing of being called children of God. It gives evidence that we belong to the God of peace who sent the Prince of Peace with the message of the gospel of peace reconciling us to himself.

There is no greater happiness than that. Are you known as a peacemaker? Would others say that about you? If so, take it from Jesus. You are blessed!

For a quick checkup and loads of resources to help you pursue your joy as a peacemaker, click on Biblical Peacemaking at Ken Sande’s website www.rw360.

Question: What principle or insight has helped you experience happiness as a biblical peacemaker?

OUR UNENVIABLE FRATERNITY

Another Story of Unimaginable Loss Yet Sustained by Unshakable Hope

Sometimes an author simply must go off topic.

After watching this moving, seven-minute piece about my dear brother and friend, Ellis, I knew this week’s post was one of those times.

I was Ellis’ pastor when he lost his daughter at the tender age of eighteen so many years ago.

Ellis was my friend when I lost Joshua four years ago and Nancy three years ago.

I sought to be his friend again when he lost his bride just months ago. They would have celebrated 45 years of marriage today.

We do belong to an unenviable fraternity. We have often commented how our lives have run parallel courses.

But we share yet another reality that makes us members of a most enviable fraternity.

Both our lives remain built upon the solid rock, Jesus Christ, who never fails to sustain in life’s darkest hours (Matt. 7:24-27).

With Ellis’ permission, I invite you to watch this moving testimony.

Be encouraged to hope and continue your race no matter what the twists and turns along its course.

Question: What is one aspect of this story that strengthens your hope?

AN OPEN LETTER TO GRADUATES

A Plea to Set Your Sights on the Most Valuable Pursuit Imaginable

Dear Graduate:

Congratulations on your accomplishment! It is no small achievement to earn a diploma or degree at any level. I commend you for making the finish line. Well done!

Of course, graduation is also a starting line—we call the ceremony “commencement”—the beginning of the next season of your journey.

Scholarship money concept. Coins in jar with money stack step growing growth saving money investment

Whether you are headed for college or going directly into a career, I want to challenge you to consider the single most important pursuit imaginable for the rest of your life.

WISDOM 

God’s word calls wisdom “far better than jewels—all you may desire cannot compare with her” (Proverbs 8:11).

When I graduated high school, the principal challenged me to get straight A’s in college. Please don’t misunderstand. I’ve got nothing against academic excellence. But rarely in my life have I prayed, “Lord, make me smarter.”

But I have begged time and again, “Lord, make me wiser.” I want to challenge you to aim higher than knowledge. Determine to learn how to apply what you know to life’s often staggering choices in the best possible way. That’s wisdom!

“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight” (Proverbs 4:7).

Here is my gift to you: six truths for getting wisdom from Proverbs—Scripture’s bank vault of wisdom. Each starts with the letters of the word itself.

Worship God Reverently
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight” (9:10). Nothing matters more than this. Put God first in your life by making your aim always to please Him.
Invite Input Enthusiastically

“Listen to advice and accept counsel, that you may gain wisdom in the future” (19:20). Don’t go it alone. Get yourself a mentor you respect to help guide you through life’s most significant decisions.

Shape Words Carefully

“Whoever keeps his mouth and his tongue keeps himself out of trouble” (21:23). Trust me on this: people will judge how wise or foolish you seem by what comes out of your mouth. “Out of the heart the mouth speaks” (Matthew 12:34). Control your tongue.

Distrust Self Vigilantly

“Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life” (4:23). A person’s worst enemy is their own heart (Jeremiah 17:9). Guard it from every threat—especially pride (11:2).

Overlook Sin Graciously

“Good sense makes one slow to anger, and it is his glory to overlook an offense” (19:11). Don’t be easily offended by others. Choose love that covers a multitude of sins (10:12).

Make Disciples Intentionally

“Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another” (27:17). A disciple is a learner. Don’t just get a mentor; be a mentor. Help others grow. Give yourself away to others and I guarantee you’ll increase in wisdom.

Friend, this might seem overwhelming. It is. You and I need the help of the One who became wisdom for us (1 Corinthians 1:30) through His perfect life, death on the cross, and resurrection from the dead.

If you’d like to know more about him and the wisdom life he offers, watch this seven minute presentation called Two Ways to Live.

If you ever need help or counsel in any way, please don’t hesitate to contact me. It would be my great joy to offer whatever wisdom I can.

In His grip,

Curt Heffelfinger

5 THINGS I’VE LEARNED IN 9 MONTHS OF SEMI-RETIREMENT

Pausing to Look Back for Takeaways about How to Move Forward

I wracked my brain wondering what to post this week.

Thanks to friend and writing mentor Chad Allen, I knew exactly where to head.

His timely post about his new season of self-employment inspired me to reflect similarly on my transition.

Your new life

Last August 15 I walked out the door for the last time as lead pastor at Orlando Grace Church.

Here are five significant takeaways from the journey thus far.

One, God is faithful to provide (Phil. 4:19).

When I put a succession process into motion at OGC, it took some risk-taking faith. Like many pastors in their later years, I’m not positioned financially to retire. While I desire to keep working at my calling, the fact is I must do so to provide for my household. I marvel how not once since the OGC paycheck ended have I needed to raid the buffer fund!

Takeaway: keep on trusting that He is a rewarder of those who seek him (Heb. 11:6).

Two, conflict is everywhere to steward (Matt. 5:9).

This reality hasn’t surprised me at all. I expected to find strained relationships and broken friendships in rural Idaho just as they exist in metro Orlando. But the extent of these challenges in our valley has at times taken my breath away. There is a need here for peacemaking help.

Takeaway: stay on mission helping churches and their people do their best at preserving unity (Eph. 4:1-3).

Three, help is essential to succeed (Gen. 2:18).

Nobody thrives or survives in the pastorate full-time or part-time by flying solo. We need a ton of help. Jan excels in her role as this shepherd’s wife! I don’t even want to imagine trying to serve Trinity Church without her persevering prayer, relentless encouragement, and relational skills.

I’ve also found help from my fellow elders at Trinity as well as other area pastors by joining the local ministerial association. I know next to nothing about pastoring in a rural context. These servants have much to teach me and I’m eager to learn.

Takeaway: do a lot of listening to wise counselors (Jas. 1:19).

Four, relationships are costly to build (1 Pet. 4:8).

One local pastor reminded me recently of the adage “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Stepping into a new culture and church brings the challenge of investing in relationships to build trust and connection. That takes time, energy, even money because few things build relational intimacy like sharing a meal together.

Takeaway: take initiative regularly to practice hospitality with joy (1 Pet. 4:9).

Five, time is precious to redeem (Eph. 5:15-16).

According to my employment agreement with Trinity, I’ve got 20 hours each week to spend on pastoral ministry. Our elders insist that I stay around that target, though we all know some weeks will require more time.

They want me to enjoy this new season by not overworking. How sweet is that!? They’ve got me keeping a daily log of how I use my time. At the 90 day mark of service we will review the results to take stock of my stewardship.

Takeaway: prayerfully choose each day’s activities to make the most of every opportunity (Psalm 90:12).

Whatever your vocation–full-time, part-time, semi-retired or retired–I trust these reflections apply to your realm and might help as you move forward into your future!

Question: What in this article has been most helpful to you?

PASTOR AND WIFE BEGIN NEW SEASON

Minister Emphasizes Need To Live to the Fullest, Maintain Peace

Anniversary Trip 036

Curt & Jan on vacation in Laguna Beach, California

 

This article by Ben Jorgensen appeared recently in “The Clearwater Progress.” It is reprinted with permission.

After living most of his life in big cities, Curtis Heffelfinger is relishing his new pastorate responsibilities at Stites.

Heffelfinger, 66, isn’t a newbie to the area having previously bought a Wall Creek property in 1999 and moving there with his first wife Nancy. However, they returned to the Orlando area soon after for what they anticipated would be a year to help their children’s families before returning to paradise. 

After becoming involved with Orlando Grace Church, Heffelfinger ended up becoming their pastor when the church leadership imploded in conflict. “All the pastors resigned. They turned to me being an interim pastor.” The concept of interim turned into 15 years while Idaho’s verdant valleys and backyard visits of elk were put on hold for a bit.

During his time in Florida, Heffelfinger learned well the value of peace and the preciousness of opportunity. In 2005, Heffelfinger developed a cancerous lesion on his tongue, eventually resulting in removal of about a third of the tongue. His treatment of chemo and radiation would surface health ramifications years later. “My oncologist said your odds are 50-50 for survival, at best,” he said.

Based on the prognosis, the couple felt he would likely be gone first. “Here I am Sunday in and Sunday out preaching the gospel and proclaiming eternal life and that dying is gain.” He said if God is not done with him then he wants to live the message of 1 Cor. 15:50-58, “always abounding in the work of the Lord.”

Then out of the blue, Nancy developed ovarian cancer and after an 18-month battle, died in 2016 after 41+ years of marriage. Losses seemed to come in waves. Their first born son died in 2014 at age 35 followed in 2015 with the disintegration of Curtis’ jaw caused by his earlier cancer treatments.  

His mandible fractured as a result of the radiation and he lost all his teeth on that side of his jaw. The fix involved a titanium implant the length of the side of his face, a bone graft from his hip used for a new jaw, and implants for  teeth. The treatment left that part of his face numb.

Coupled with the reduction of his tongue, it requires a dedicated effort to articulate speech.

The losses have not gotten him down, though, because he is encouraged by the goodness God has provided. He said he has been blessed with a second dynamo wife, Jan, who although she always lived in the Orlando area, was willing to move to Stites—population 228—to see what awaited them. “It’s such an answer to prayer that she is so happy here,” he said.

Their arrival at Stites was also an answer to the prayers of a group of about 30 core church goers. The two-and-a-half-year-old Trinity Reformed Baptist Church had been earnestly praying for a pastor.  “They were kinda holding on by their fingernails,” said Heffelfinger, noting “if the Lord wasn’t going to send somebody they were going to close the doors.”

He noted that the church’s confession of faith is the same as Orlando Grace where he pastored. “What are the odds?  Fifteen minutes from my property is a church with similar convictions, commitments, desires, in other words, it’s a match made in heaven.”

After a period of six months Heffelfinger was installed on Palm Sunday as a paid part-time pastor. His first full service occurred this past Sunday. “We’re so happy to be here,” he said. “This is a new season for us. We’re happy to have a church that has embraced us. I’m thankful I can preach the gospel.”

The part-time status gives Heffelfinger the chance to pursue his interest in religious writing. Based on his more than 30 years in the pastoral ministry, he penned the book, The Peace Making Church: 8 Biblical Keys to Resolve Conflict and Preserve Unity, describing the need for people to strive for peaceful interactions. The book may be found on Amazon.com.

“I write all the time on how you can guard the peace of your church, how you can support your pastors and elders and leaders and keep your people from melting down in conflict. It’s such a terrible witness when we turn on each other,” he said. He also writes a regular blog. He strives to encourage people to own the message of Matt. 5:9 about the blessedness of peacemakers.

His passion for God’s message is fueled to some degree by his brush with death. “Cancer changes your life significantly,” he said. “You see the brevity of life and the gift that it is, that no day is guaranteed. You want to make the most of the opportunities the Lord gives you day in and day out. I think the first way it changed me, I really believe, is what I preach.”

Heffelfinger intends to use whatever remaining time he has “to live to the fullest for the Lord and for His people and for the region now that I am in.”  He wants Trinity to be mission minded in the Clearwater Valley, noting that it tends to be a natural inclination for people, regardless of where they live, to turn inward.

Citing the message of Matthew 5 to let one’s light shine with good works, Heffelfinger says he is contemplating how local churches can together serve people and make a difference in their lives.

“What needs are there? How are we to be on mission in good works and wise words of encouragement, counsel, sharing our stories and God’s love in Jesus Christ? It’s not just about proselyting. It’s about genuinely loving, caring, and serving, and loving your neighbor as yourself.”

Trinity Reformed Baptist Church holds service every Sunday at 10 a.m. followed by a fellowship meal. It is located in a community center at 4313 Highway 13. Heffelfinger may be reached at (321) 947-8171.

NOT YOUR AVERAGE MARRIAGE SERMON

Peacemaking Love To Cover a Multitude of Sins

Couple with their backs turned to each other

I require every couple I marry to commit to six premarital counseling sessions with Jan and me. Our aim is to equip the bride and groom-to-be for a lifetime of marital delight and staying power for the long haul in their two-are-better-than-one union (Ecc. 4:9-12).

Conflict resolution skills matter immensely to that goal because every husband and wife sin against one another–a lot. In fact, it requires an earnest kind of love that covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet. 4:8).

That takes something more than a toolkit of communication principles. It requires a supernatural source of motivation and a vision for marriage on a grander scale than most couples bring to the engagement process.

So the first homework assignment I give is for the two of them to watch this message by John Piper. It’s called “Love Her More, Love Her Less: Living for God’s Glory in Marriage.” It is NOT your average marriage sermon by any means.

In reality it contains hope for persevering love that covers a multitude of sins in every context, not just marriage. I commend the 22 minute investment of time to anyone needing more peacemaking love he/she thinks they can summon in dealing with fellow-sinners in the home, at the church, on the job, or wherever else they may be found–just about everywhere.

Question: What one thing can you do to increase your knowledge of and delight in the glory of God?

GOOD FRIDAY IRONY

If Pagan Mortal Enemies Can Make Peace, Why Can’t You?

old crosses of stone to the backlight

How many times have I read a familiar portion of Scripture only to react: “I’ve never seen that before.”?

In the final moments leading up to his passion, Jesus goes to trial before Pilate (Luke 23:1-5). Pilate, evading the hot seat temporarily, ships Jesus off to Herod, the fox (Luke 13:32).

Herod and company delight to abuse the Son of God, ultimately transferring him back to Pilate’s jurisdiction in a game of political Ping-Pong (Luke 23:6-11). What fun.

Verse 12, Luke’s editorial comment on the turn of events, stopped me dead in my tracks.

“And Herod and Pilate became friends with each other that very day, for before this they had been at enmity with each other (emphasis added).”

The word for “enmity” appears in Romans 8:7 as “hostile” to characterize the dilemma of the mind set on the flesh in relationship to a holy God. These infamous characters on history’s Good Friday stage did not care for each other in the least. And still their contempt for Jesus Christ wound up reconciling them as friends. Talk about major league irony!

Octavius Winslow’s comments, in his work Morning Thoughts, brought this insight to light for me:

How striking and solemn the instruction conveyed in this incident! Pilate and Herod, standing in the attitude of the deadliest hate to each other, are now made friends! And what strange but mighty power has thus suddenly subdued their animosity, and turned their hatred into love? What mystic chain has drawn and bound together these hostile rulers? Their mutual and deep enmity against Jesus! Believers in Christ! are the enemies of our glorious Redeemer, inspired by a natural and kindred feeling of hatred, induced to forget their private quarrels, and merge their differences in one common confederation to crush the Son of God, the object of their mutual hostility; and shall not the friends of the Redeemer, constrained by that divine principle of love which dwells in the hearts of all who are born of God, quench their heart-burnings, bury their antipathies, and draw more closely together in one holy, vigorous, and determined alliance to exalt the Son of God, the glorious and precious Object of their mutual affection? Oh, if Jesus is the bond of union to those who hate Him, how much more should He be the bond of union to those who love Him! Beneath His cross how should all unholy jealousy and bitterness, and wrath and anger, and clamor and all uncharitableness, be mourned over, confessed, abhorred, and renounced by the children of the one family; and how should all who love the Lord Jesus Christ in sincerity be unhesitatingly and cordially recognized as such, thus “endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.”

“If Jesus is the bond of union to those who hate Him, how much more should He be the bond of union to those who love Him!” 

Indeed. Please allow me to challenge you this Good Friday.

Are you at enmity with some brother or sister somewhere in the body of Christ?

If Pilate and Herod can reconcile, cannot you at least take the first step (Rom. 12:18) toward your “enemy” for which Christ died and seek to be made friends?

 

 

MY PLEDGE TO GOD’S PEOPLE AT TRBC

Eight Covenant Commitments I Promise To Keep as Pastor

lamb in the arms of the good shepherd

When Jan and I moved to Idaho last year, we knew about the need at Trinity Reformed Baptist Church. The two-year old church plant had been praying quite some time for the Lord to send them their first staff pastor. What we did not know was whether I would be the answer to that prayer.

Over the last six months we have seen clearly the Lord’s hand in bringing us to this rural community of some thirty people to serve their pastoral needs. This Sunday, Lord willing, the elders will lay hands upon me. I will be installed as their first vocational elder/staff pastor.

With a humble heart and great awe at God’s kindness in entrusting yet another pastoral stewardship to me, I pledge to live out the following commitments with the Spirit’s help however long it will please Jesus for me to serve the sheep of this pasture:

  1.  I will not neglect to pray for your welfare in every way (1 Sam. 12:23; Acts 6:4; 3 John 2).
  2. I will study diligently in order to preach and teach the word faithfully from our pulpit (2 Tim. 4:1-2).
  3.  I will guard the deposit of sound doctrine (1 Tim. 6:20) and constantly point you to the sufficiency of God’s grace (2 Cor. 12:9) and the power of the gospel (Rom. 1:16-17; 1 Cor. 15:3-5).
  4.  In partnership with my fellow elders, I will exercise spiritual authority as a caring shepherd among you (Acts 20:28)–not as a tyrant (3 John 9), but as a servant (Matt. 20:25-28)–striving to be an example to the flock (1 Tim. 3:1-7; Titus 1:5-9Titus 1:5-9; 1 Pet. 5:3).
  5.  I will do my absolute best as a peacemaker (Matt. 5:9) to safeguard the unity of TRBC with all humility, gentleness, patience, and forbearance in love (Eph. 4:1-3; Rom. 12:18; Heb. 12:14).
  6.  I will seek to help equip you as believer-priests (1 Pet. 2:5) for the work of the ministry (Eph. 4:11-12) in accordance with your spiritual gifts.
  7.  I will invest spiritually in other men so as to disciple them into greater depths of spiritual growth, with a view to raising up future generations of leadership (2 Tim. 2:2).
  8. In all things I will gladly spend and be spent for your souls (2 Cor. 12:15), laboring always for your joy (2 Cor. 1:24) not in my own strength, but by the grace of God I trust and pray will always be with me (1 Cor. 15:10).

Pray for me (1 Thess. 5:25), please, for these are no small things to promise and I fear I am so often inadequate for the task.

Praise the One who makes us competent as ministers of the New Covenant (2 Cor. 3:4-6)!

Question: What one thing might you do soon to encourage your pastor as he labors to keep his commitments at your church?