This weekend, the pastoral leaders and staff of MSMBC met together for our annual retreat, in which we review the previous year and plan for the coming year (and beyond). While I noted that Friday’s meeting went well; Saturday was a litter tougher. Our congregation worships at a location where there is no parking (members park a block or so away, behind a supermarket). We do not have much Christian education space either (we also use another building a block away for Sunday School). And our building needs much repair. And as we process the options that we have, it is always difficult for us to reach consensus on what to do, what to do first, and how to do it. Our Saturday meeting reflected this struggle. We did not get accomplished all that I hoped. But we were able to take some good steps forward. I praise God for this. We are trusting God to make room for us – in both place and space. Continue to pray for us about these matters.
I was beat Sunday morning. I think the weekend had caught up with me. I was really movign in slow motion when I woke up. Praise God that I already had my sermon ready before the weekend started (which almost never happens). All I had to do was review my manuscript through the weekend. Yet, I still ended up preaching from the manuscript at the 8 AM service. I read much of it, even though I knew the sermon. I was just tired. I went to the pulpit with it again at 11 AM. But before I read my text, I put my manuscript back in the folder and just went for it. God was faithful to bless the presentation of his word in both services. The message was a contination of study of Ephesians (2:8-10).
Speaking of Ephesians… It my intention to break from the exposition of Ephesians at this point. I am not yet finished with my exposition of Psalm 119. I have 6 more sections to go. And I intend to preach through them on Wednesdays and Sundays, so that I can get it done be year’s end. Come January, I would like to start editing the manuscripts for publication. But it would be quite an ambition project. We’ll see. I plan to resume Ephesians on Wednesday nights some time in 2007. We have planned several shorter series for the Sunday meetings in 2007. There are some specific subjects that I want to address. I tried to do that this year. But there was a gap between planning and preparation. I trust that will be different this time around. Please remember my pulpit ministry at MSMBC in your prayers.
Yesterday afternoon, we joined the First Goodwill Baptist Church in celebrating their pastor’s 4th anniversary. Clinton Smith is my brother-in-law, married to my older sister Tracy. He started preaching here at MSMBC during the early days of my pastorate. And I praise God for the years we served together, and the opportunities I had to see the Lord develop him and his ministry. He was even our full-time Pastor of Christian Education for a period. The First Goodwill Church had faced some challenges, before Clint’s ministry began there. Yet, he has had to minister through them. And I am really proud of his diligence, focus, and confidence in God. Please remember this pastor and church in your prayers.
The Most Important Commandment
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this:‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.” And the scribe said to him, “You are right, Teacher. You have truly said that he is one, and there is no other besides him. And to love him with all the heart and with all the understanding and with all the strength, and to love one’s neighbor as oneself, is much more than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices.” And when Jesus saw that he answered wisely, he said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” And after that no one dared to ask him any more questions. – Mark 12:28-34 Armies win…