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Friday, October 11, 2013

Union Mill fall display 10/9/13
Union Mill Acres is on Elizabethtown Road here in Lancaster County

"The Blessing Of A Pastor"

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"It was He who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, 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 4:11-13). Be shepherds of God's flock that is under your care" (
1 Peter 5:2). "So be on your guard! Remember that for three years I never stopped warning each of you night and day with tears" (Acts 20:31). "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).

This month we are encouraged to express appreciation to our pastor. After serving for 25 years in fulltime pastoral ministry and several years as an interim pastor in various churches, I am grateful for the many occasions the churches I served blessed me and my family with meaningful cards, acts of kindness, carry-in meals, gifts and other meaningful gestures of kindness and generosity.

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. After all, we had stressed the importance of that when I served as a pastor and we genuinely believe it to be very important.

Mount Pleasant churchWe visited a small friendly country church the first Sunday after our move down to Lancaster County from New England. It was just up the road from our rented farmhouse at the time and we made it our home church. The church has had several pastors and I have benefited from each of their ministries, although each is individually different from the other.

Pastor John Keefer is our current pastor. He and his wife Faithe have a real down-home ministry style that we thoroughly enjoy and easily relate to. John periodically emails or calls and we are heartened by his pastoral concern for us and for others. Faithe sends out emails when there are needs in the church and each expresses a pastor's caring heart.

Preacher preachingJohn MacArthur expresses the the blessing a pastor can be: "Pastors translates 'poimen', whose normal meaning is shepherd, It emphasizes the care, protection and leadership of the man of God for the flock. Teachers (didaskaloi) has to do with the primary function of pastors." If you have a faithful pastor you are blessed!

Barclay comments, "At the time Ephesians was written the Christian Church was no more than a little island in a sea of paganism. The people who came into it were only one removed from their heathen lives; they were in constant danger of relapsing into heathenism; and the duty of the pastor was to shepherd his flock and keep them safe."

We are now increasingly living in a sea of paganism and what a blessing to have faithful ministers of the gospel who keep us on track. The other day Brooksyne heard a song that should be the expression of every earnest follower of Christ: "Preacher, tell me like it is" (Video link below). Indeed we need preachers who will not shrug off their duty to proclaim the whole counsel of God, who preach the truth and the truth that needs preached, however unpopular it may be.* Preachers, tell it like it is! Preach the Word!

Be encouraged today,

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily 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 as taught in the Bible. We're strengthened as they kneel before You and lift us up in prayer as You've given them a burden to care for our soul. 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 and their family members safe from the evil one so that they are victorious in their Christian walk and remain a solid example to those whom they shepherd. We pray this in Jesus' name.  Amen.

* "The truth that needs preached"  I was recently musing on this topic and I considered how one can preach aspects of truth while avoiding truth that needs preached. This is especially pertinent in regard to the current erosion and really full scale abandonment of Biblical standards of sexual morality. Preachers are under pressure to be politically correct which is often not Biblically correct.

A new student once asked a college president if he didn't have a shorter course to offer. The man of learning replied: "That depends upon what you want to make of yourself. When God makes an oak, He takes a century. When he makes a squash, three months will do." One reason why the Churches of our country have so many squashes and so few oaks in their pulpits and in the mission fields, lies right here. In this pell-mell, hurry-up-and-get-there age in which we are living, few young men and women have the grit to resist the spirit of the age. Few have the determination and perseverance necessary to send them to the top. In their impatience, they make squashes out of themselves-and, O, how the Church needs oaks! (Note when this was written -- Jan, 1935!)

Some pastors who have been a blessing to us!

"Everyone needs a pastor" I recall hearing this many years ago and really agree.  Today I want to share a brief thanks to all the "pastors" I have had through the years. Here are some that stand out in my memory!

Sister Howard
My first memorable pastor was John Howard and his wife Genevieve. 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 calling is "their boys". Their only son died as a result of being run over by a drunk driver while on a paper route. Pastor Howard died about ten years ago and Sister Howard (as we called her) went to be with the Lord several years ago, living into her nineties. They modeled love for people and earnest service in the work of the Lord.

Charles Harris
One of our favorite professors in Bible College was Dr. Charles Harris 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. He is now in his eighties and we periodically communicate.

Jack and Millie Provard 6/30/11
Pastor Jack Provard and his wife Millie were neighboring pastors in upstate PA and continue to be dear friends and gracious supporters.

Ed & Gladys Berkey
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 seventeen years ago.

Ester with Gambinis 9/4/11
Pastor Jim Gambini and his wife Wendy served the church we now attend here in Lancaster County when we first moved here and demonstrate genuine Christianity. Ester loves Jim and Wendy dearly.

Tommy & Nelma Carpenter 10/12/11
Tommy & Nelma Carpenter photographed in our front yard, Oct. 12, 2011.  They have touched many, many people for the Kingdom of God and Tommy continues to preach the gospel. Nelma and their grandson were tragically killed in an automobile acccident a week after this photo was taken.

Alvin Worthley
Alvin Worthley 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.

Ester with Bunny and Peg 9/4/11
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 that reminder! Bunny & Peg are like spiritual grandparents to Ester.

Pastor Jesse & Wilma Dourte 1/29/10
Jesse and Wilma Dourte are a retired pastoral couple who attend our church. They have been very supportive, encouraging and kind. Jesse is 90 and Wilma is 89 years old.  They demonstrate "it's not over till it's over" (service for Christ).

Florence Bogdan
Pastor Stephen Bogdan and his wife Florence served in a neighboring town when we first started a church out of Bible College over 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 several times and talk via email or phone from time to time.

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! Earl went to be with the Lord over ten years ago and Helen, 90, presently lives at the Mennonite Home.

Al and Thata Book
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 were killed in an automobile accident in 2003. 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 to be spurred on by their faithful examples.

John and Faithe Keefer 10/21/12
Our current pastor is John Keefer who is pictured with his wife, Faithe. Theirs is an authentic, unpretentious ministry style. Pastor John is a faithful contender of the faith and preaches from the Word of God. Faithe is his very capable assistant in the office and at his side as they minister together. He is diligent in pastoral service and stopped by to visit with Ester following her surgery several weeks ago.

Pat and Laverne Weber 05-08-08Finally, my own brother Pat, whom many readers know is also a pastor. He has served in ministry since the mid-seventies, almost the entire time in just two churches here in Pennsylvania. He has passed 65 and, unlike many of his ministry peers (including his own brother), has stayed exclusively in pastoral service since he started vocational ministry 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 in 2008. (Only days later Laverne fell and ended up having her leg in a brace for several weeks as well.)

We encourage our readers to develop their own list of those who have been a blessing over the years.

Today's Suggested Music
and Supplemental Resources

"Preacher, Tell Me Like It Is"  Video  Greater Vision

"Pastor's Song"  
 Donna Jackson

"Pastor Appreciation Song"  Video  Chris Rice (this was prepared for a pastor appreciation presentation)

"Thank God For The Preacher"   Video  Mike Bowling

"Pour My Love On You"  Video  Phillips, Craig & Dean

"If Jesus Came To Your House"  Video  Red Sovine

Some further consideration on this matter:


"20 Characteristics of a Christ-like Leader"  Paul Chappell  This is a great list to inspire pastors.

"A Good Pastor Is…?"  Yancey Arrington

"10 qualities of an effective Preacher"  Author not specified

"Characteristics Of An Effective Pastor"  Ken Kirkley

"Eight Ways to Encourage Your Pastor" Victor Parachin

"14 Ways to Encourage Your Pastor"  Dale A. Robbins

"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 your pastor..

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).

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and I make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and to prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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