The Heart of a Pastor
If you want to see Paul’s tenderness and pastoral heart for a church then you really ought to read and meditate upon his first epistle to the church in Thessalonica. This was a church that he had personally planted (Acts 17). He had a relatively brief ministry there and was forced to flee the city by night because his persecutors were looking to harm him. But as he writes his first letter he expresses great love for this church and states his desire to return to them as soon as he possibly can. In 1Thessalonians 2:17-20 we read, “But since we were torn away from you, brothers, for a short time, in person not in heart, we endeavored the more eagerly and with great desire to see you face to face, because we wanted to come to you—I, Paul, again and again—but Satan hindered us. For what is our hope or joy or crown of boasting before our Lord Jesus at his coming? Is it not you? For you are our glory and joy.”
I think Paul expresses here what Pastor Knox and I feel about you. We feel as if we have been “torn away from you…in person not in heart.” And that has caused us to long to be with you “face to face…For you are our glory and joy.” This has undoubtedly been a difficult season for all of us and it is complicated by so much uncertainty about when it will be over. I don’t have any answers to that, only uneducated guesses. But I want you to know that our hearts long to be reunited with you all in person. You are ever on our hearts and in our prayers and we cannot wait for the day when we will be able to see you “face to face.” As we continue in this season of isolation I want you to know that I’m praying for you exactly what Paul prayed for the one’s he loved in Thessalonica: “Now may our God and Father himself, and our Lord Jesus, direct our way to you, and may the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints” (1 Thess. 3:11-13).
As we await the day when we can be reunited in person, I want to let you know about one significant change we are going to attempt in order to improve our ministry to you. Many of you joined us for a Good Friday service that we held via Zoom. I heard much positive feedback from that. In addition, Pastor Knox and I were both encouraged and felt more connected to you all than we have while recording our sermons during the week. As we read the Bible, prayed, sang, and preached we both had more energy and a sense of engaging with you than we have experienced during sermon recording sessions. So, we’d like to try and Zoom the worship services this coming Sunday. Let me explain how this will work:
- We will still pre-record both the audio and video of the sermons and have them available on the website. In the event that anyone has trouble with the live services on Sunday they will still be able to access audio and video of the sermons via our website.
- Sunday School will take place at its regular time (9:00AM). However, both Sunday School classes will meet simultaneously. I know that many of you have been attending both of them and I’m encouraged by that, but in order to do a live service the session thought it best to try and keep the timing of things more like a normal Sunday. There will be new Zoom links sent out for the two Sunday School classes in a separate email.
- The morning service will take place at 10:15AM as usual. You will still be able to find the bulletin on our website and we encourage you to follow along with the entire service. We do ask you to keep your microphone muted throughout the entire service so that there is no interference with the service.
- The evening service will begin at 5:30PM and Pastor Knox will be concluding his sermon series on Habakkuk by examining a NT passage that quotes from Habakkuk 2:4.
We recognize that the audio quality for the singing from the Good Friday service was not the best and we are working on ways to improve that. We ask for your patience with us as we are somewhat limited by our hardware capabilities. Nevertheless, we hope you will be ministered to as you sing along with us.
One final note: I know that these are financially unstable times for many of you. Some have lost work and others have seen investments take a serious hit. Many churches (including our own) have seen a significant drop in giving during this time. Let me encourage you once more to continue your regular tithes and offerings during this season as you are able. You can give safely and securely online at our website here: Online Giving. You can also mail a check to the church if you prefer. The Lord has been very kind to us in recent years and our elders and deacons have worked hard to faithfully manage the resources the Lord has blessed us with. Your generosity in giving has been a major part of this financial health. I want to ask you to continue that generous, cheerful giving so that we may continue to spread the gospel along the Emerald Coast and throughout the world.
I look forward to worshipping with you all (albeit virtually) this Sunday!
Your pastor and friend,