Pastor’s Ponderings: December 2020

by John Armstrong
 
I love Christmas, I love celebrating the coming of the Lord Jesus. I love listening to Christmas music, and all that goes with the season, particularly joining together with family and friends to celebrate and enjoy fellowship. I’m particularly disappointed this year that as a family, we will not be hostingour annual Christmas “Bob” after the Christmas Eve service. It is probably best this year given the realities of Covid-19. We are not hosting the “Bob” because we will be out of town to be with family in Texas as we are anticipating the birth of our grand-daughter. However, I digress. Let’s think about Christmas a bit more. I’m not going to talk so much about the incarnation of Jesus although that is the main point of why we celebrate Christmas, (listen to the advent series that I’m preaching for more on the incarnation). As Christians we can never let the incarnation leave our thoughts as we talk about how we celebrate Christmas, but for the moment, in this short pondering, I would like to address something far more trivial. How are you doing on your Christmas gift list? I am very well aware that for some of you that is not a trivial concern, it is a major issue. I’m not interested in passing judgment on whether or not your gift list is a big deal toyou or not. As the Teaching Elder of the church, I realize we are in a season of giving, when people are going to be giving gifts and I am one who fully participates in the giving of gifts. I don’t like getting gifts for people just to get the “x” in the block. I have some criterion for gifts. Ideally, I will get a gift that they actually want or one that they will find useful. Some of the best gifts I’ve ever gotten were things I wouldn’t have thought of, but I’ve found very useful. So, I need to know who I’m getting the gift for and think about who they are and what their needs and wants are. I would like to get a gift that will be around for a long time. I have gifts that were given to me decades ago and I’m still using them. I think we all probably want to give gifts that are going to be appreciated and enjoyed. We want to give gifts that say I love you and care about you. Now, bear with me as I shift gears a bit because I am going somewhere with this.What is the church to be doing? As Christians we are to love the Lord our God and our neighbor as ourself. Very simply that translates as we are to whole heartedly worship God, we are to reach out with the love of Christ to non-believers (outreach), and we are to share the love of Christ with believers (nurture). How might that impact your gift giving this year? Now, I’m being serious about this, this is not a “Be sure to drink your Ovaltine” moment. How might you, in love, reach out to unbelievers with a gift? How can you encourage believers with a gift? We have some options for your consideration on the Book Table in the Narthex. Particularly, we have some wonderful books for children. So let me encourage you to consider taking a look at the Book Table with your gift list in mind. If you don’t find something there, but are still interested in the book option for someone, let me know and I’m happy to help you find something appropriate for a believer or a non-
believer. Just so you know, all ESV Bibles are 50% off at Westminster Books if you are looking to gift a Bible.So in the end, has this Pastor’s Pondering been one big infomercial? Maybe. (In my defense, at no time did I say, “but wait, there is more”). I’ve written to try to give you something practical, something I hope will make your Christmas gift giving a little easier. At the same time, I want us as a congregation to take advantage of the Book Table, it is put there and maintained by the Committee on Discipleship Ministry with your growth in grace in mind. As Christmas rapidly approaches, may the Lord richly bless you with health, peace, and growth in grace.


Pastor’s Ponderings: November 2020

by John Armstrong
 
It is spelled, “C-h-a-r-r-e-t-t-e,” it is pronounced, /SHəˈret/. The Oxford dictionary defines a charrette as,“a meeting in which all stakeholders in a project attempt to resolve conflicts and map solutions.” Wikipedia defines it as,“an intense period of design or planning activity. The word charrette may refer to any collaborative session in which a group of designers drafts a solution to a design problem.” So, now that you know what a charrette is, why is this the topic of a Pastor’s Pondering? Faith Church is going to participate in a charrette in November. Representatives from a company called “Building God’s Way” are going to come meet withthe Strategic Planning Committee from 7-9PM on November 10th,11th, and 12th. Those meetings will focus on needs assessment, initial design (interior), and final design (interior/exterior) respectively. The Strategic Planning Committee has taken pains to make sure that all the major areas of our church’s ministry are represented by people deeply involved in those aspects of the ministry. You may be asking yourself, “Why are we doing this now?”First of all, our church has been blessed by God with a growth trend in new people coming and in the birth of covenant children. We praise God for both. When the Lord blesses you, He has a way of challenging you as well. We are indeed challenged,evenin this time of pandemic when we are not using the facilities as we used to, we are still finding ourselves short on space. Our space requirements have continued to increase for years now and we are frankly severely limited in the amount of things we cando with our current facility. We need more educational space for Sunday school classes for all ages. We need more restroom facilities. We need more dedicated fellowship space. Those are existing needs. If we continue to grow, which we are praying for, we will also need increased worship space. Your elders are committed to trying to avoid having to go to multiple worship services. The reason for that is the tendency for multiple worship services to create multiple congregations. We are one body hereat Faith and we want to guard that as we seek to worship God together.The Lord has chosen to drop an ever growing mission field literally right at our doorstep. Historically, we have been what I have called a “regional” church because we have membersthat commute long distances past many other churches to come here. There is nothing wrong with that, and there is no doubt that we have struggled at times to try to reach out to our immediate community without much success. We are praying and mobilizingfor a different outcome as the community grows around us. We want to be a church that reaches across the street and even across some state lines. As I say that, I’m mindful that if the Lord continues to bless us with growth, there is a limit to what we can do at this location on Yellow Springs Rd. There may come a time when we will need to birth a daughter church in the surrounding area. However, that is a conversation for a later time. For now, I would ask you to please pray for the Session,and the Strategic Planning Committee and the several additional folks that will join in the process of participating in this charrette. May God be glorified in this process and may He grow and bless His church here at Faith Reformed in Frederick.


Pastor’s Ponderings: October 2020

by John Armstrong
 
Spectrums, you have heard of them. They are used in every field of study from the natural sciences to sociology, psychology, and the like. It has become popular to refer to some people as “being on the spectrum.” That usually applies to people we think are somewhere on the autism spectrum, meaning they could be very high functioning to very low functioning. You have probably heard people refer to the “political spectrum” referring to progressives on the left and conservatives on the right. You can devise spectrums for any number of things. I’m interested in spectrums nowadays because they have everything to do with leadership in the church. They always have because depending on what category of spectrum you are dealing with, there are going to be people in the church that are represented on that spectrum. Think about the people you know in church. We have people who are mature and those who are immature. As you hear that, are you thinking in terms of age? Are you thinking in terms of spiritual development? It doesn’t take much to see that it is vitally important how you define your spectrum, otherwise the information it gives is not very helpful. I’ve known some people who were very mature in terms of age, but not mature at all in terms of spiritual development. So, at this point you may be asking,why am I making such a big deal about spectrums if they can be so confusing? Your church leaders (the elders and deacons) have to make decisions and try to lead all the people in the church, and all the people inthe church are spread across the length and breadth of all kinds of different spectrums. As we find ourselves in the midst of this pandemic, in the midst of an environment that is becoming more and more politically divisive, the church is being strained and her leaders too are strained. We hear all the critiques to the decisions we make. There are those who say we are too aggressive and cavalier, we put people in danger of contracting illness, by the decision to open up for worship. At the same time, there are those who think we are foolish and cowardly for not doing more to return us to “normal” function as the church. Let me assure you that your church officers are well aware of the risks we face, and at the same time, the privileges that we have chosen to forego for a time. We are also well aware that we cannot satisfy everyone in the congregation, nor are we interested in doing so. Do we want you to be happy? Of course we do. Are we going to make decisions based on your happiness? No, absolutely not. We make decisions based on what we believe the Lord would have us do in accordance with the Scriptures. Since the sheep of any flock can be found on a spectrum of abilities, you have to ask yourself why does the shepherd then lead the flock from the front? The shepherd leads the flock from the front because he sets the pace for the flock. Could the shepherd lead the sheep as hard and as fast as he is capable of going? Yes, he could. What would happen to those sheep who can’t keep up? They get left behind and as stragglers are subject to being attacked by predators or simply exhausted by the effort of trying to keep up. The job of the shepherd is to get the whole flock to green pastures and clear water. That means he should keep a pace that will, for some of the sheep, be difficult, but doable, while other sheep may get antsy because the pace isn’t fast enough for them. The sheep who think they are strong and want to run ahead, run into the same kinds of problems as stragglers. They are just stragglers in reverse. They are sheep without a shepherd and therefore they are vulnerable.It is important for the flock to stay together. In this time that we find ourselves, we have so many different factors seeking to pull us apart. It is hard to stay together. It takes sacrifice and discipline, but what has the Lord ever asked of His church that doesn’t? In all things we are called to die to ourselves and live unto righteousness, to live following Jesus our Good Shepherd. The under-shepherds of Christ (elders) here at Faith Church are not perfect, we err, and we struggle to know what is best. We covet your prayers and your patience as we seek to walk a very fine line trying to keep the flock together for the glory of Christ.


Pastor’s Ponderings: September 2020

by John Armstrong
 

William Shakespeare wrote the familiar words, “A rose by any other name, would smell as sweet.”  I have often taken that phrase from Romeo and Juliet and changed it from positive to negative.  Saying something like, “A rotten potato by any other name, would smell as bad.”  I guess it is just the Calvinist in me.  We definitely have a tendency to think more highly of ourselves than we ought.  When we are confronted with the truth of the depravity of our own heart, we should give up the folly of our thinking well of ourselves.  One of the real problems that every believer faces is understanding the sinfulness of our sin.  You have probably heard sin called many things such as “rebellion” or “cosmic treason” or just “evil.”  It is certainly all of those things and more.  As disciples of the Lord Jesus, we are supposed to be bothered by our sin, we should find it repugnant and wretched.  Kind of like that rotten potato, but actually much worse.  If you have ever had a rotten potato in your house you know what I’m talking about.  The smell is horrendous and you will not rest until you get rid of it.  That is the way we are to deal with sin.  When we catch that tell-tale stench of sin, we need to immediately run to the Lord and confess that sin and ask for help to put it to death, to root it up and get it out of our life.  We need to realize first and foremost in dealing with sin, that we can’t do it ourselves.  Apart from the work of the Holy Spirit applying Christ to our lives, we’ll never take sin seriously. If, by God’s grace, you are desiring to take sin more seriously, then there is something you should know.  First, you don’t need to study sin, you don’t need to go meditate and contemplate your sin, that will not get you where you need to go.  We start with studying Jesus Christ.  Spend your time meditating and contemplating on the person of Jesus.  Study His deity, His righteousness, His holiness, and His justice.  The more you understand the holiness of God, the more you will be equipped to understand the sinfulness of sin.  A clear vision of God will expose your sin for what it is, you don’t need to go searching for it, it will come to light and by God’s grace you can then take it to the Lord for cleansing.  Maybe you are like me, you hate your sin, but you often go about trying to rid yourself of it in the wrong ways.  We need more of Jesus, not more of trying harder to do better.  We need gospel truths to seep into every part of our lives and fill us up to overflowing with the grace of Christ.  Do you want that?  That is a godly desire that comes from God working in your life.  If it is there, be encouraged.

 

It is September already, where did the time go? This is the time when we start things afresh at church.  I hope you will determine to join us in the various ways we are seeking to grow in our knowledge of Jesus and in our sharing Him with others.  Now is the time to take seriously your sin and pursue more of Christ. 



Pastor’s Ponderings: August 2020

by John Armstrong
 

It is hot outside.  It is hot outside and the air conditioner for the Fellowship Hall needs a new compressor.  It was new back in the 70s, but like so many things that have been around that long, replacement parts are rare or non-existent.  In our case, the technicians can’t find a replacement, so, it is time to replace the whole unit.  That is just part of living in this fallen world, things break and need to be repaired and when they can’t be repaired, they need to be replaced.  We have another unit that serves the middle section of the church and that unit is of the same age as the Fellowship Hall unit.  Therefore, a decision has been made to go ahead and replace that unit as well.  When we do that, “UV Air Scrubbers” will installed throughout our HVAC system in the church.  What does that mean?  It means that all the air being recirculated through the church will pass through an ultra-violet light unit that will purify the air and reduce particles that can irritate allergies and asthma.  As well as, protecting people from dangerous contaminants and pollutants while also protecting heating and cooling systems from dust buildup.  Air conditioner breaking in the middle of a heat wave, bummer.  Being able to afford to replace it and get new purifying technology, Praise the Lord! 

There a couple of reasons I wanted to share this with you.  First, the deacons are doing a good job of overseeing the needs of the physical plant and are working hard to be good stewards of the church’s financial resources.  Second, I want you to be aware of what is going on and to know that steps are being taken to provide a safe and secure facility in which we can worship and gather as the body of Christ.  Thirdly, I want to point out that God is in control of all things.  You are probably saying to yourself, “well, yeah, I know that.”  I’m saying this because we live in a world and in a time, that is rampant with so much bad news and unusual circumstances that it is very easy for us to lose sight of the fact that God is in control.  I sometimes feel as if it were not for bad news, we would have no news at all.  Of course that is not true, but there are those who are seeking to promote that kind of narrative in order to encourage us all to be fearful and dissatisfied.  Our enemy, Satan would have us to live in fear and dissatisfaction.  He wants us to be discontent, he wants us to feel like we are being harried and harassed on every side.  Why?  Go back to what I just said, so that we will tempted to forget that God is in control and that He is working out His holy will in spite of Satan’s best efforts to thwart it.  Our enemy, Satan is a created being.  Is he to be taken for granted, never.  He is a powerful and dangerous enemy, however, he can do nothing apart from God’s design.  So, be encouraged, even in the midst of trials and tribulations, because these things are short lived.  Our God reigns and He sits firmly established on His throne.  He will never be shaken and His people are the apple of His eye and He will deliver them all safely into His presence at the right time. Praise the Lord!  That is my message to you this August in 2020.  Praise the Lord!



Pastor’s Ponderings: July 2020

by John Armstrong
 

I’m just kind of reeling because it is full on Summer and I’m not sure what happened to Spring.  My tomato plants are about four feet tall and I’m already getting zucchini out of my garden.  As you all know this has been a very strange time in our world, in our nation, and in our communities, including our church community.  The stressors on us all have been much greater than I realized.  I used to think that I had a pretty high ability to absorb stress in my life.  When I was younger I would say stress didn’t really bother me.  I’ve spent almost all of my adult life living on the high side of the Holmes-Rahe Stress Inventory scale.  It took several thousand dollars’ worth of broken teeth and dental crowns for me to realize the stress I was under was being absorbed, but it was doing damage to me physically, and in turn emotionally.

 

In the past several years I’ve become more mindful of my stress levels and have put things in place in my life to help mitigate stress.  For one, I wear a night guard to protect my teeth.  I like my dentist, but I don’t want to give her anymore of my money than is absolutely necessary.  Also, I like going to the gym to work out.  Getting a good night’s sleep is also very important.  There are a number of other things that you can do to help lower your stress levels and I’ll leave you to your own investigation for those things.  However, I would say the best way to deal with stress in your life is to spend time with the Lord in His Word and in prayer.  This week I’ve been reading and reflecting on Psalm 131.  I think it is instructive for us in this time.

 

Psa. 131:0  A SONG OF ASCENTS. OF DAVID.

Psa. 131:1 O LORD, my heart is not lifted up;

                        my eyes are not raised too high;

             I do not occupy myself with things

                        too great and too marvelous for me.

2 But I have calmed and quieted my soul,

                        like a weaned child with its mother;

                        like a weaned child is my soul within me.

Psa. 131:3 O Israel, hope in the LORD

                        from this time forth and forevermore.

 

This is a psalm of humility that speaks to our need to not think more highly of ourselves than we ought.  In the midst of turmoil and uncertainty, none of us is happy, none of us like the times or issues we are confronted with. We want it all to change, and we want it now.  We must remember that we are not in charge.  What we want is not always best.  What we want may be counter to God’s will for our life.  Sometimes, fighting the turmoil and uncertainty to maintain your illusion of control is just so much futility.  In this psalm David is saying, stop striving to be God when you are not.  Get a grip on who you are in relation to God and then you will know peace in the midst of whatever comes.  The weaning process is not an easy one for a child as he or she learns to trust the mother fully to provide in a different way than what he or she has become accustomed.  There is a struggle, but that struggle ends with a child weaned from the breast and still fully dependent and trusting upon the mother.  How is it, that if we know God, that we can continue to struggle and be discontent?  I have made the point before, and I’m sure I’ll be making it for the rest of my life, by God’s grace, that “to know” God is not to just know about God.  To know God means to know Him experientially.  There is an element of knowledge that is information and facts stored up in our brains, but there is also the knowledge that only comes through experiencing God in His mercy and grace.  Seeing how He provides, how He delivers, how He saves, how He forgives, how He frees, how He strengthens, etc., etc., etc…  When we experience these things the head knowledge of God is translated to an experience that affirms and convinces.  Our faith is grown this way as the Holy Spirit moves in our lives and gives us understanding.  That knowledge (factual and experiential) serves to change us at our core, in our heart.  The Holy Spirit changes our hearts so that we become more like Jesus from our hearts outward and that changes who we are in our thinking, and acting.  That full-bodied knowledge of God, by His grace, enables us to trust Him even in the midst of the most difficult times.  Therefore, when we know God we can indeed be as that weaned child with his/her mother.  With that we close with the prayer of David for Israel (the people of God), O Israel, hope in the LORD from this time forth and forevermore.  No matter what we face today, no matter what tomorrow may bring, there is hope in the Lord.

 



Pastor’s Ponderings: June 2020

by John Armstrong
 
What is repentance? How do you measure repentance? There is repentance unto life and then
there is every day repentance. What are you in the process of repenting? Maybe you don’t
really know what repentance is. Repentance and faith are the two vital parts of the Christian
life. Reformed believers are quick to acknowledge that we are sinners saved by grace and then
seem to move on with life without much thought of the change we are called to and
empowered for by the Holy Spirit. Repentance is not something you are going to muster up in
yourself, it is a change of mind wrought in us by God. We see our sin and in repentance we
repudiate that sin and walk in such a way that we put that sin to death. Repentance is seen in
our lives by change over time. This is true for individuals and it is also true for the church, and
for the nation. We must acknowledge that we are sinners and we live among sinful people and
as sinful people living together we are guilty of corporate sins. The sins we tolerate as a people,
whether it be at the national level, or the church level, are sins for which we need to confess,
and ask God for the gift of forgiveness and repentance.
In our current national crisis, the sin of ethnic inequality has again come to the fore and is being
weaponized by various factions for all kinds of purposes depending on to whom you are
speaking. What are we as the church supposed to be doing? Our denomination, The
Presbyterian Church in America is predominantly white, and middle-class. There are very few
ethnic minorities in our denomination. By far, the ethnic minority most represented are
Koreans at 15% with many of those being in Korean language Presbyteries. About 1% of the
Teaching Elders in our denomination are African-American. I point that out just to give some
background about where we are coming from.
The events of the past weeks that highlight ethnic inequality and injustice are grievous to us as
Christians and they should be. As followers of the Lord Jesus, we of all people should be
concerned for life and peace, we should work to end oppression in all of its forms. How do we
do that? Maybe you are uncomfortable with some of this vocabulary, because what does this
word or that word mean? Depending on who you are and your experience, different words
take on different meanings. Therefore, we often talk past one another. That is why I’m pleased
that our denomination through its Committee on Discipleship Ministries (CDM) and Mission to
North America (MNA), are calling for a time of mourning and listening. The month of June was
set apart for 30 days of Gratitude (a time to pray and be grateful) that is now being postponed
as we instead take time to focus on the sin and brokenness around us having to do with ethnic
inequality and injustice. Let me encourage you to make the time to participate with our
denominational response that you can find here:
https://pcacdm.org/a-time-to-listen-a-time-to-mourn/
People are suffering in our midst and that should not be. As a Bible believing Christian, I believe
that every human being is created in the image of God and is worthy of respect simply on that
ground. There is one race, we are the human race, we all have the same blood veins, we all
have the same original sin of our first parents. There is therefore no place for injustice and
oppression. We may not all look the same, but those differences are purely superficial. We are
all sinners in need of a Savior, we are all sinners in need of repentance. One of the best ways
for us to repent is to mourn our brokenness and open our ears to hear those who are suffering.
Then, we will be better equipped to respond with the gospel of Jesus Christ to this hurting and
broken world in which we live.


Pastor’s Ponderings: May 2020

by John Armstrong
 

My wife and I enjoy the sport of scuba diving.  We have been divers since the second year of our marriage, so it has been a while.  If you are going to dive safely, you have to adhere to certain procedures.  Otherwise, you can develop very dangerous conditions in a big hurry because nitrogen begins to build up in your blood stream.  When you are ascending you always rise at a rate slower than your exhaust bubbles, and you always spend the last five minutes of your dive at 15’ below the surface to make sure that your nitrogen levels have an opportunity to return to normal and you can safely exit the water.  Those are just two of the basic rules that help to ensure a safe dive.  Now, I’m not interested in talking about diving particularly, but the illustration serves well in our current situation with the Coronavirus restrictions.

 

As we come into the month of May, some of the restrictions we have been living under will be lifted.  The government is going to try to ease us back to a place of normal routine over an undetermined amount of time.  There is plenty of other stuff being written about that elsewhere so I’ll leave that for now and focus on our situation as a church in particular.  We are anxious to get back together for worship and small group and other activities.  We are going to have to phase into those things as the restrictions are slowly lifted.  It appears that we will be able to return to having folks in worship together in the coming weeks, but that will be limited by numbers.  As we went into this thing, we went from 250 to 50 to 10 very quickly.  I’m guessing we’ll step back up through those same kinds of numbers on the way out.  So, how do we do worship when they say we can have a gathering of 50?  Who gets to come to worship and who stays home?  When will we start back with Sunday school?  Those are all questions the Session needs to address.  Keep in mind too, that as the restart begins and we are allowed to gather in larger numbers, we are still going to have to maintain social distancing.  Given the way our pews are situated, that means we are going to have to work out a plan to spread people out.  Children are a big factor in all of this as well, because they are not terribly proficient at  social distancing, nor are they really apt to understand.  So, there is a whole other layer of concern that needs to be addressed. 

 

Please understand this, the Session wants nothing more than to return to business as usual in our church function of worship, fellowship, and outreach.  We want to see our nursery and Sunday school classes full of our children and our adults sitting under solid teaching together and talking around the coffee urn, etc..  However, we also want to see that happen as safely as we can so that, to the best of our ability, no one is put in harm’s way.  I say that understanding full well that every breath and heart beat is a gift of God and there is no guarantee that the next one will come.  Our God is a good and sovereign God and His providence is perfect.  We are never completely safe from the ravages of this fallen world, but we are completely safe in Christ.  As Luther so aptly put it in his most famous hymn, “Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also, the body they may kill, God’s truth abideth still, His kingdom is forever!”  What he is saying in his musical adaption of Psalm 46 is that we are citizens of a heavenly kingdom.  We are not to be looking for our safety and reward in this fleeting earthly life, we are to look for it in our eternal life in the New Heavens and the New Earth.  I cannot tell you what tomorrow will bring, but I can say that as God gives us opportunity, we will move forward to return to normal function within our congregation as quickly as possible all the while seeking to be wise in how we do that.  Please stay connected to us through our social media and other communications.  We will try to be as forthcoming with information and instructions as we can.  Please continue praying for safety and health as well as a return to normal function.  I look forward to seeing you all again as soon as the Lord allows.

 



Pastor’s Ponderings: April 2020

by John Armstrong
 

I don’t know about you, but I would like someone to say, “April Fool!” and then we could all get back to our regular routine and this would all be just a strange memory.  However, that is not going to happen.  We find ourselves in the midst of a national crisis the likes of which have not been seen since World War II.  We are in a crisis that has gripped the entire globe and is wreaking havoc upon us in many different ways.  Obviously, there is the specter of the Covid-19 virus itself that is threatening our health and potentially our very lives.  The measures we are taking to prevent the spread of this disease are devastating our economy and we expect to come out on the other side of this in a very different world than what we were experiencing even a month ago.  Whom among us would have thought we would be doing our Sunday morning worship service with YouTube being the primary means of accessing that worship?  A month ago I would have said maybe for some folks who are having to stay home for one reason or another, but I never would have imagined at that point that we wouldn’t be able to gather in groups numbering more than 10.  It is almost overwhelming to take it all in.

 

So, what are we supposed to do with all of this?  We do what the true disciples of Christ have always done.  We turn to the Lord in prayer.  We turn to the Lord in Bible Study and Worship.  We turn to our neighbors and show them the love of Christ.  Who is my neighbor?  My neighbor is my spouse, my children, those living in the same house with me.  My neighbor is the person living next door or down the street or across town or in another state or even another country.  There are two kinds of neighbors, just like there are two kinds of people.  There are those who are trusting by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and there are those that are not.  So as we work to show the love of Christ we follow the injunction of Scripture that says, “9 And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. 10 So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).

Let us love our brothers and sisters and fathers and mothers in Christ and let us not stop there but let us love those who don’t know Jesus yet.  May God the Holy Spirit work through us to show people the love of Jesus in our actions and in our words.  Do your neighbors see Jesus in you?  My prayer is that the Holy Spirit would indeed make that true in my life as I have opportunity to reach out to others.  I watched a great short video put out by our own Dr. Lloyd Kim, the Director of Mission to the World for the PCA.  He highlighted the fact that we are living in the midst of God doing something big in our own time.  Is this the gateway to revival like we have prayed for?  Let’s continue to pray for revival.  Pray expectantly, pray that God would use you.  Pray that God would use Faith Church.  Pray for strength and wisdom, pray for safety and health, but most of all pray for God’s great revival to come to His people and that we would respond in faith and repentance and that we would rise up and be the church.  All for His glory!  Come Quickly Lord Jesus!


Pastor’s Ponderings: March 2020

by John Armstrong

 

An important part of the job of any leader is thinking.  I know, some of you are saying to yourselves, “Wow, that is a real PhD statement there.”  Bear with me a moment as I state the obvious.  Sometimes the speed of life is such that I go from one thing to the next without much thought of anything else.  There is always one more thing waiting to be done.  There is this meeting and that meeting and this person or that person that needs to be seen.  The schedule gets full and the demands are such that not much thinking takes place.  What do I mean by thinking?  I’m referring to time to consider where I am in life, what is going on around me, what is the best course of action, where do I want to go, how do I get there, how do I bring others along with me, and why am I going this way?  I’m guessing this is an experience that many of you share. 

 

Busyness is a fairly common topic in this Pastor’s Pondering section of our monthly newsletter.  I come back to it often, because I recognize it is something I need to not just fight against, it is something I need wage war against.  Busyness is the enemy of good leadership.  It sneaks in and saps our strength by causing us to spend our best efforts on “good” things.  Reread that last sentence, I wrote it that way purposefully.  We need to spend our best efforts doing that which is best, not just doing that which is good.  How do you discern the difference between what is best and what is good?  I’ll tell you how I go about it.  I pray for the Lord to guide me into that which is best and to guard me from getting caught up in doing good to the point that I never get to what is best.  Satan would have us get really busy doing all kinds of “good” things so that we are exhausted and unable to that which is best.  Think about that.  The next time you are feeling tired and spent at the end of the day, ask yourself this question: “Did I do what is best today, or did I fill the time with just what was ‘good’?”  I hope you can see that which is “good”, when it gets in the way of what is “best”, is no longer good.

 

One of the things the elders on the Session are wrestling with is how do we do a better job of leading and shepherding the flock here at Faith Church.   One of our big challenges is getting people to join in the work of the ministry.  Many of the elders serve on multiple committees and are not as fruitful overall because they are spread too thin.  I include myself in that number.  I think we are going to be working over the coming months to try and change that.  What we are saying is we are going to try and change the 80/20 rule in the church.  The 80/20 rule says 80% of the work is done by 20% of the people.  That means we need to have a cultural shift in our church to recognize that 80/20 environment as not healthy.  Immediately, we need to see this as an impossible task apart from the Lord’s working in our midst.  We need to be diligent in prayer for this to change.  After that, this means more participation on the part of the laity and a different focus of effort on the part of the elders and deacons.  What are your gifts?  Where are you working?  Are you bearing fruit for the kingdom at Faith Church?  If not, why not?  Will you be a part of shifting the 80/20 culture in our church to change the rule to 100% of the work being done by at least 80% of the people?  When we get there, we’ll still need to be thoughtful about doing that which is best over that which is merely “good.”  However, we’ll be getting there together and that will be a fruitful enterprise.