In Philippians 2:19-29, Paul told the church in Philippi about Timothy and Epaphroditus. He called them men whose interests were of Christ Jesus and said Timothy was like a son to him. In writing about Epaphroditus, Paul said that he was sick to the point of death and that he had nearly given up his life for the gospel. In vs. 29, Paul wrote, “So receive him in the Lord with all joy, and honor such men.” There are men (and ladies) like this in every generation and every church.
This past Sunday, we had the privilege of hearing from a man like this in Bruce Wells. Bruce faithfully pastored his church in Liberty City, Texas, for 32 years. Here’s an article from the Tyler, Texas newspaper about Bruce’s retirement in 2015: https://tylerpaper.com/lifestyle/family/couple-closes-32-years-in-local-ministry/article_909101bf-4acf-5798-850d-96bc3b9688cf.html. They joined CLF in 2016, and he has faithfully loved people, preached, and taught classes when asked. As a successful, faithful pastor, you would think that Bruce would try to remind me of his past ministry or have some critiques for the “young guy,” but that has never been the case. Bruce has been a friend, a mentor, and an active supporter of my life, family, and ministry. He is a wonderful blessing to our church and me.
So, when I asked him to preach on Obadiah a few weeks ago, he never hesitated. And if I’m being honest, you don’t ask just anybody to preach on Obadiah on short notice, but I knew Bruce was more than up to the task. If you didn’t get to hear his message, let me encourage you to get it when it’s online this week.
Bruce’s sermon was fantastic. It was clear, challenging, and faithful and made us long for Jesus more. I think if the Apostle Paul were writing about men today, Bruce Wells would be one of those who have the interests of Christ in his heart and who have given their lives for the Lord. I’m grateful for Bruce, and I know you are as well.
Now, I had to call on Bruce on short notice due to a change in my end-of-the-year schedule. Initially, I planned on being in the Philippines for a week of quarantine due to COVID-19 protocols before our work with Filipino pastors and churches on October 7th began. My original plan was to use that week for my yearly planning retreat. But some things changed in the protocols, and my trip was changed to October 6th-16th, so I needed to find another week for planning. Bruce preaching this past Sunday allowed me to take last week to do that planning.
My planning week each year is for mapping out the following year’s worth of Sunday teaching. Generally, during this week, I study the main book we will be in and plan for sermons every Sunday of the year. That’s 53 Sundays for next year. In 2023, our main book will be Genesis, as we study the origin of all things. It was a good week of study, and I’m just about finished with the schedule of texts and Sundays.
I’m grateful that our elders have made this week a priority for me in our budget and have given me the privilege to do this every year. This year, I didn’t go anywhere. I stayed home, worked from my back porch, from local coffee shops, and had a few already scheduled meetings. It was a good, refreshing week, and it was nice to be home with my family.
And this is another reason why I am grateful for Bruce. When I told him why I asked him to preach, he was eager to be a blessing to me and benefit me in this way. His willingness to deliver God’s word to our church gave me the freedom to plan for next year. It’s another way I see God at work in our church and why I’m humbled to pastor this church.
Two Questions for You
I realize that you face many cultural pressures and challenges regularly in your life and family. One question I have for you is: What areas of life or ideas/topics would you like to be more equipped biblically in? Would you be so kind as to reply to this email with those ideas?
Another question for you: on most Thursdays, Perry Sorensen and I do a video Q & A about our recent sermon or another issue on the docket. If you have questions regarding a sermon or something you’re interested in us talking about, please email those to us. You can do that by replying to this email.
Our desire is to serve you and equip you in your faith regarding the issues/challenges you might face. And honestly, sometimes I can get a bit myopic and short-sighted. It’s always good to hear from you about these types of things.
This coming Sunday, we will study the book of Jonah. Jonah is probably the most famous minor prophet. It’s a story of God’s mercy and grace and our disobedience.
From the Cheap Seats
- Albert Pujols’ 700th homerun chase has been incredible. Here’s a great post about what happened after he hit it: https://www.mlb.com/news/albert-pujols-hits-career-home-run-no-700.
- Aaron Judge is having an MVP year, which came in his contract year after a squabble with the Yankees (which I’m pleased about). This was a fantastic article about a critical moment in his season: https://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/34643794/aaron-judge-home-run-ball?device=featurephone.
- The exchange between Jonathan Smith and Lincoln Riley at midfield after the hard-fought USC vs. Oregon State game was incredibly respectful. Just give this some thought: a big-time college football coach came to small Corvallis to play an Oregon State program that hasn’t been very good for a long time. Riley said after the game: “Great college football game tonight. Give credit Oregon State a lot of credit, really good football team,” Riley said. “It was a tremendous atmosphere. I gotta be honest, I’ve never been an atmosphere like that where it’s half a stadium. So you’ve got to give their fans, their team a lot of credit. They’re a really good football team, it was a tough place to play tonight. I’m probably more proud of this win than the previous three, they’re all important, but we had to find different ways to win tonight.” Classy and good for Coach Smith. I thought he would get OSU turned around. Now I hope nobody comes along to take him away:).
To watch or listen to the sermon described in this post, please click here.
Have a great week!