Time flies. Next week, on Wednesday, Nov. 10, I will celebrate my eighth year as the Lead Pastor of Prairie Flower Baptist Church and enter into my ninth year of ministry. When I accepted the pastorate out here on the prairie, I said, “I promise to love you and lead you.” I am more committed than ever to loving and leading this incredible congregation here in southeast Iowa. For better or for worse, I’m here. I’m committed. I’m ready, by God’s grace and strength, for another year of life and ministry.
However, as I type this report out, I have such schizophrenic feelings. So much good is happening in our church family! Our church services are full of people hungry to hear the Word of God, Growth Groups is in full swing, our kids’ ministries are dynamic and exciting, and our building improvements have been nothing short of amazing. Indeed, with a pavilion project and sanctuary renovation project behind us, we are currently in the throes of a new siding project and a new church sign project. Exciting stuff! God is truly better to us than we deserve. On top of these things, several of us on the Leadership Team are engaged in a leadership development program called the Leadership Journey and we’re learning so much from the Word that will sharpen us as leaders in the home, church, and community. Time fails for me to fully explain all our plans for a South Africa Missions Trip in March of 2022, our Pastoral Internship Program for the Summer of 2022, and our ongoing Church Constitution Initiative. See what I mean?! So many good things are happening out here on the prairie!
But at the same time, the world, the flesh, and the Devil continue to make their dark and sinister advances. Yes, sin and selfishness are always percolating, even out here on the prairie, trying desperately to overtake our people with sweet lies of joy, peace, and freedom in living life independently of God and His Word. Indeed, some of our folks are so disconnected from the body that their drowning in the deep, icy, shark-infested waters of sin and selfishness. I fear for them. I pray for them. I’m pleading with them to take our hand, trust the promises of God, and take the narrow path towards true joy, peace, and freedom. At some of them, I’ve literally shouted, “You’re in deep sin. Watch out! ‘Sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it.'” Some listen and humbly repent and make the bend towards change. Others scoff and say, “No. I hear you and I know you’re simply doing your job, but I’m not going to listen. I’m not going to change.” In fact, just recently, I wept in the home of a man who kicked me out of his home after he confessed to sexual immorality and a deep desire to continue in it. As I turned to leave, I read from 1 John 1:9, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteous.” His response? “I know I’m in sin. I know that I’m not following Christ. But I’m not going to change.” Tears streamed from my face as my body began to shake…See what I mean? There are truly some sad things happening out here on the prairie…
But we continue on. We trust our sovereign Christ. We remain committed to Scriptural truth. We fight our feelings with facts. We love on sinners. We offer the forgiveness of Jesus. And we always say, “I love you”, even as some people we say it to are ripping our hearts from our chest cavities. And then, we scarf down some food, work out, hit the sack, and then get back up to fight another day. Indeed, life and ministry is war. It’s a battle. It’s a fight. So, strap your armor of light on and beat back the darkness by representing truth, wisdom, and the beauty of grace amidst ashes. This is what we do as Christians, whether in the big city of Des Moines, IA or out in the rural prairie land of Washington, IA.
So, yeah, yay for another year of life and ministry. Cheers to year eight being done; and may God bless the ninth year in front of me. I usually give a list of lessons learned, but “ain’t nobody got time for that.” I got to get back to work. I got to get back to the fight. And so should you. Tired? We’re all tired. Need a break? We all need a break. Just keep going and let me encourage you…Mount up, shout truth, and try to enjoy the ride…To God be the glory.