Easter Sunday 2017 is nearly here. As believers, there is not a more important day of worship for us. It is the day we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord and Savior. Here are some things you can do to ready yourself for Easter:
- PAUSE. Take some time this week to be still. All of us are busy with many important things, but this week of passion is a week to reflect. We should pause to reflect on our sinfulness, the sacrifice of our Savior, and the certainty of our redemption in Christ. Don’t let this week be like every other week. Make time to pause and consider the weight of holy week.
- PRAY. When you pause, pray. Pray for the broken world in which we live. Sadness and heartbreak haunts persecuted and suffering believers across our world. Pray that the grace offered by the Savior who was broken and bruised for our salvation would comfort others. Lift up especially the Christians targeted by heinous and evil worldviews like ISIS and the church bombings that left more than 40 dead and more than 100 wounded in Egypt on Palm Sunday. Pray for God to give internal and external peace. Pray knowing that Jesus died not only for us, but even so that the men who carry out these attacks could experience forgiveness if they will but receive the Risen Lord.
- PREPARE. Don’t just show up at church this week. Arrive ready to worship. Be thoughtful and intentional this week to pray for the salvation of a neighbor, co-worker, family member. Invite someone to church on Easter Sunday. Prepare for your worship by seeking out others to worship the Risen Savior.
- PONDER. Consider the Crucified Savior. Ponder his suffering, his shed blood, his sacrifice, his death. Realize that because he suffered, he offers grace to others who suffer. Jesus’ victory on the cross and out of the tomb assures us of victory over our sins, our sufferings, and our situations. Ponder the victory won for us during this Passion week.
- PRAISE. Easter Sunday is a day for corporate celebration. We gather as the church on Easter Sunday to celebrate the Risen Savior, to bask in the glory of God’s vindicated Son, to live in the blessing of the saving work of Christ, and to anticipate our eternal home in heaven. But don’t wait until Easter Sunday to praise. Offer praise and thanks to the Risen Savior throughout the week.
- PROCLAIM. Easter Sunday is the day that everything changed for Jesus’ followers. Men who cowered in hiding and fear became bold proclaimers of the death and resurrection of Jesus. Christianity is the largest religion on planet earth not because of intimidation, fear, or political power. Rather, Christianity spread and still spreads because believers proclaim the penultimate event in the history of the world–the Resurrection of Jesus Christ. He is Risen. Will you tell someone?
If you do not already have plans for Easter, we have two services at Wilkesboro Baptist Church this Sunday. Both services will meet in our newly renovated sanctuary. Our first service is contemporary and meets at 8:50 am and our second service is traditional and meets at 11:00 am. We would love to have you join us as we proclaim the Risen Christ!
Originally published by LifeWay Pastor’s Today Blog
October is pastor appreciation month. It is wonderful for pastors to know that their churches appreciate them. I’m grateful for every encouraging comment, card, and acknowledgement. But pastors are not alone in their need to be appreciated. Pastors should take the time and energy to appreciate their churches and church members.
I’m certainly aware that pastoring and leading people can be challenging. I know that churches have difficult members, and I also know that some churches have difficult pastors. In fact, my father was asked to resign one of his churches for no cause whatsoever. As a pastor’s son, I watched the unfairness of that situation affect my father’s ministry and family life. As a pastor today, I’m thankful that I had the opportunity to see his example of forgiveness and continued ministry. Regardless of the challenges pastors may face, we have many important reasons for showing appreciation to our churches.
- Pastors, we should appreciate our church’s heritage. Our churches existed before us and will exist after we’re gone. While some churches can certainly become chained to the past, pastors cannot afford to neglect their church’s heritage. Past influence and successes provide the framework for future growth and ministry. Heritage doesn’t have to be a hindrance to church growth, rather it can become a springboard. By publicly acknowledging elements of church heritage, pastors cultivate healthy connections between the past and the present.
- Pastors, we should appreciate the giftedness of our church members. Many church members use their spiritual gifts and talents regularly. Thanking congregants publicly and privately who use their gifts in the church builds a culture of gratitude. As the body of Christ, churches need more than professional staff. The body needs every member, and those that use their gifts faithfully should be thanked regularly.
- Pastors, we should appreciate the attendance, involvement, and giving of our church members. Being a pastor is a calling and mandate to study, preach, minister and lead weekly. Our congregants give hours on the weekends (that is not a part of their jobs) to attend, to serve, to be involved. We should not take the involvement of our members for granted. We can acknowledge and appreciate the attendance and involvement of our congregants by faithfully preparing sermons, carefully articulating God’s Word, and genuinely ministering to our congregation regularly.
- Pastors, we should appreciate the difficulties many of our church members face. Disease, financial challenges, personal struggles, death, and other significant situations permeate our congregations. Some of those challenges bleed into how church members interact with us and other congregants. I’m not suggesting we excuse poor behavior. Rather, we need to minister with consideration, gentleness and kindness to all our congregants.
- Pastors, we should appreciate our churches because we are the bride of Christ. Jesus bled, suffered and died for his church, his bride. Jesus loves his church more than we could possibly imagine. Think about how important it is for you to appreciate and acknowledge your spouse. Think about how hurt and upset you might become if someone took your spouse for granted or treated her/him poorly. As pastors, we are responsible to shepherd, love, and care for someone else’s bride—the bride of Jesus Christ. Our churches are really his church, and our appreciation and service to them is a reflection of our service to him.
On a personal note, I’m deeply grateful for Wilkesboro Baptist Church. God blessed me with the privilege of serving a gifted congregation with a glorious heritage full of members who love Jesus and serve others. To the members of Wilkesboro Baptist, thank you for the honor of being your pastor.
My first six weeks at Wilkesboro Baptist Church has been a bit of a whirlwind. I can hardly believe we’ve sold a house, moved all our stuff, concluded one ministry, begun another, all in the last 90 days. My first six weeks at the church have included baptism, the Lord’s supper, a funeral, deacon’s meeting, finance committee meeting, deacon ordination, pastor installation service, and a church business meeting. It’s been a fun whirlwind.
I’d like to share a few initial observations about my time so far:
- I remain convinced God placed me here at Wilkesboro Baptist Church. Not only did I sense God’s leadership here, but the church is a good fit for me and my family.
- Preaching weekly is a joy. Having the opportunity to pray, think, plan, study, and preach through sermons and series is an incredible privilege. I am thoroughly enjoying this aspect of my ministry.
- My church is fantastic. Everyone has been so warm and welcoming. From the meals, gifts, and cards, to the banana pudding and pound cake, my family and I feel welcome. Thank you Wilkesboro Baptist Church.
- God has blessed Wilkesboro Baptist with a wonderful staff, deacon body, and church leaders. I look forward to the years working together to accomplish God’s mission of making disciples.
Let me offer this word of exhortation from my pastor, Dr. Greg Mathis. He shared these thoughts regarding an effective ministry at my installation service on September 27. Let us forgive early and often (show the grace and forgiveness to one another that Christ showed to us), protect our priorities (keep God first in all that we do), evaluate our attitude (don’t be judgmental, bur rather be humble and contrite), remember the power of prayer (depend on God’s favor and power), and clean our hearts daily (deal with self regularly).