October 20, 2011
Pumpkin Stand in Lancaster County, PA
I stopped by to visit with Joe and he informed me that most of his pumpkins were going to Whole Foods, but local folks can buy them at this farm stand along Hossler Road near Manheim.
(We shared several other photos of Joe’s pumpkins in Tuesday’s message.)
Brooksyne and I sure have some great memories of such expressions. One of the earliest that comes to mind goes way back to the early 80’s. At that time I was an avid tennis player and for several years coached our high school tennis teams in Saint Marys, PA. In 1983 the church presented me with a huge cardboard tennis racquet and the church “forced” me to carry it down a main street through the small town into the sports store to redeem it for a state of the art (at that time) graphite tennis racquet. I was a lot skinnier back then!
When we transitioned from full-time pastoral service to the chaplaincy ministry in early 2001 we knew the importance of getting involved in a good local church. We visited a small friendly country church the first Sunday after our move which was just up the road from our rented farmhouse at that time and it became our church home. The church has had several pastors in the last ten years and I have benefited from their ministries, although each is individually different from the other.
Pastor John Keefer is the current pastor. He and his wife Faithe have a real downhome ministry style that we are really blessed by. John periodically emails or calls and we are heartened by his pastoral concern we see for us and for others. Faithe sends out emails when there are needs in the church and each expresses a pastor’s caring heart and call to faith. Due to our present role in pastoring a small country church (part-time) we do not attend that church but we still feel included and I am pleased to call John my Pastor.
Pastors are under severe attack; many are burned out, others discouraged and still others maligned. One of the greatest issues is the tyranny of expectations placed on them by themselves and by others, who often hold unreasonable expectations that one always seems to be unable to meet. But should they meet one’s expectations they’re sure to displease another holding an opposing view.
How we need the local church’s heeding of the daily text: “Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work.”
So what can you do to bless and support your pastor? Here are a few starters:
* Don’t compare him negatively toward others.
* Look to his strengths, not what you perceive as weaknesses.
* Don’t participate in negative criticisms, rather seek to squelch them.
* Speak specific words of appreciation and encouragement.
* Be loyal.
* Pray for him.
Two other verses so helpful in this regard: “Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Hebrews 13:17). “The elders who direct the affairs of the church well are worthy of double honor, especially those whose work is preaching and teaching” (1 Timothy 5:17).
Be encouraged today,
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily Prayer: Father, we thank You for the spiritual leaders You have placed in our lives. We thank You for those who express personal concern when they see that we’re troubled and offer Bible-based counsel and encouragement. We thank You for those who contend earnestly for the faith, who do not follow the trends of their day but the teaching of the Bible. Father, we thank You for those who kneel before You and lift us up in prayer. You’ve given them a burden to care for our soul, to love us unconditionally. We hold them in the highest regard as they carefully deliver Scriptural truths that will keep us from being shaken as the slide to decadence continues to increase. Keep them safe from the evil one so that they remain a solid example to those whom they shepherd. We pray this in Jesus’ name. Amen.
My first memorable pastor was John Howard and his wife Genevieve (photo on right). Pastor Howard was the first pastor I had as a born-again Christian in the early seventies. I kept up with them through the years and they were so pleased that they had mentored those now in ministry. Pastor Howard died about ten years ago and Sister Howard (as we called her) went to be with the Lord this last summer, living into her nineties. They modeled love for people and earnest service.
Pastor David Selleck was my immediate supervisor (presbyter) for many years as a young pastor. He was an earnest prayer warrior. He conducted monthly meetings where pastors in our area gathered to pray and encourage one another.
Pastor Clayton Sheridan was our home missions rep and was so encouraging in showing interest and offering advice in our young church plant in St. Marys, PA.
One of our favorite professors in Bible College was Dr. Charles Harris (photo on left) who stressed the need for sound Biblical exposition and drilled it into his students. He was a pastor for many years and a real contender for the faith and remains so to this day. I still recall one of his sermons he preached over thirty-five years ago from 1 Corinthians 2:1-5.
Pastor Ron and Sally Piedmonte pastored the church we served in Massachusetts some 25 years prior to our time of service. They went on to serve one of the largest churches in Binghamton, New York but showed such a personal interest and concern for our work. Pastor Peidmonte passed away several weeks ago.
Pastor Ed and Gladys Berkey. He was my district superintendent in New England and remains a friend and colleague in ministry. He spoke a word of affirmation and encouragement at the very beginning of our daily encouragement ministry nearly fifteen years ago.
Pastor Jim Gambini and his wife Wendy (left photo) served the church we attended when we first moved to Lancaster County in 2001 and demonstrate genuine Christianity. Jim set the standard for pastoring to Ester and she loves Jim and Wendy dearly.
Tommy and Nelma Carpenter, friends from Arkansas who stopped by last week. They are like salt shakers dispensing salt wherever they are! (see Matthew 5:13)
Alvin Worthley (left photo) is my chaplain supervisor and so encouraging in expressing interest and offering advice in both our business and internet chaplaincy. He has introduced me to various folks from across the country who are now my friends.
Bunny O’Hare is a chaplain to the trucking industry. He and his wife Peg have a vibrant faith in the Lord. Every now and then Bunny calls just to ask, “Did you know that Jesus loves you”. I never get tired of hearing that!
Jesse and Wilma Dourte are a retired pastoral couple who attend the country church we now serve and have been so supportive, encouraging and kind. Both are now in their late eighties and they demonstrate “it’s not over till it’s over” (service for Christ).
Pastor Stephen Bogdan and his wife Florence served in a neighboring town when we first started a church out of Bible College nearly 35 years ago. They had us over for dinner, encouraged us, and prayed for us. Pastor Bogdan has gone to be with the Lord but Florence continues to faithfully serve the Lord in the Philadelphia area. We kept in contact over the years and served on missions trips in their church in Center City Philadelphia with our youth. We visited Florence last summer and talk via email or phone from time to time.
During our years in New England I visited at a mission’s banquet with Dr. J. Christy Wilson Jr., who was a pioneering missionary to Iran and Afghanistan. Although my visiting time was relatively brief I could see why this man had such an impact upon many.
In 1951 Christy and his wife Betty flew to Afghanistan where they served for 22 years. Their three children were born there. Dr. Christy taught English in one of the local high schools for about five years and then he became the pastor of the ever-expanding foreign community. His greatest ministry, however, was prayer. It was a great joy for him to pray with individuals who came to him with their needs and concerns. The Lord used Betty to start Braille education with the blind in Afghanistan. Many of the blind became devoted followers of Christ. Christy was responsible for building the only Christian Church on Afghan soil, dedicated in 1970. Because of Afghanis coming to Christ, the Wilsons were expelled from the country in 1973, and the church building was destroyed.
The day after we moved to Lancaster County over ten years ago we experienced the wonderful encouragement of neighborly kindness. Earl Martin, a retired pastor who was also our new neighbor, stopped by to greet us with a shoofly pie his wife Helen had made. (Shoofly is a molasses type of pie very common among the Pennsylvania Dutch.) He had heard from the landlord that the Weber family renting the farmhouse were Christians and that I was also a minister. He surely must have wondered about a preacher from Massachusetts moving to conservative Lancaster County!
When we first moved to this area we came to know and greatly respect Al and Thata Book. They had served God together for over 50 years, mostly on the mission field, and maintained a sweet, serving spirit to the very end. In their late seventies, while on a missions trip in Africa, they both died in an automobile accident. Though it was a two-fold loss for their families and the Christian community, it was also a double celebration for their godly influence as a couple. They were tremendous energy givers and fervent prayer warriors. Brooksyne keeps the Books’ photo and her grandfather’s photo within view as she works at her desk so she can be reminded and spurred on by their faithful examples.
Finally, my own brother Pat, whom many readers know is also a pastor. He has faithfully served since the mid-seventies, almost the entire time in just two churches here in Pennsylvania. He will turn 65 next year and unlike many of his ministry peers (including his own brother) has stayed exclusively in pastoral service since he started vocational ministry when he was in his late twenties. He inspires me with his pastoral care. Often when I call him he is visiting someone in the hospital or in one case several years ago traveled a long way just to support someone who had gotten in trouble with the law. Believe me that’s hard work and can so often seem fruitless. In the photo he and his wife came down to visit Brooksyne after she broke her ankle several years ago.
We encourage our readers to develop their own “Personal Pastoral Hall Of Faithfulness”!
Heavenly Father, we thank you today for your work in creation and the abundant blessings that we have as Your children.
We thank you for the glorious gospel; the gift of your Son Jesus Christ as the one mediator between God and man.
Thank you for the church, the company of the redeemed, and for the local church where believers gather to express their faith and obedience such as we do here at ____________.
Thank you for the gift of pastor, which your Word says you gave to your church “to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, 13).
Thank you for Pastor __________ and his faithfulness to your cause, for the Bible says, “it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful” (1 Corinthians 4:2).
Thank you for his personal commitment to Jesus Christ as his Lord and Saviour and to the Word of God.
Thank you for the love he has for his wife and family demonstrating a stable and healthy family. For the Scripture says of church leadership, “he must manage his own family well and see that his children obey him with proper respect” (1 Timothy 3:4).
Thank you for his thoughtful exposition of your Word, as he heeds your call to “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2).
Thank you for his leadership in our church services and the orderly manner in which he leads us, seeking to fulfill the Biblical call that “all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40).
Thank you for his interest in the flock under his care and the burden that he carries for your people.
Thank you for his wife _____________ and her compliment to his leadership and her service and thoughtfulness as well.
May you continue to confer your richest blessing upon this ministry couple as they seek to fulfill their call amongst us and thus bring You glory.
In the powerful name of Jesus Christ we pray, AMEN.
(This is a prayer I prepared for my pastor on Pastor Appreciation Day several years ago.)
“Find Us Faithful” Video Steve Green
“Find Us Faithful” Video Choir version