Printable version PASTORAL LETTER 152
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
I write today to speak a word of encouragement to us all. I know that we have been going through tough times; I know that I have not been perfect as a pastor in all of my judgments and decisions, and I am deeply sorry for the hardships that we are experiencing. But I also know that the Lord wants to cast us increasingly upon Himself and less and less upon men.
I have a sacred calling here, which is to faithfully preach Christ to you from the Bible, and to pray for you earnestly, that Christ may be formed within you, and that you may live for His Glory, being fully prepared for Eternity. This I have endeavoured to do for these 25 years, with my faithful wife and children right next to me, and many dear brothers and sisters to encourage.
Max sent me a Puritan prayer this week from the priceless book The Valley of Vision, which Nathan Fisher brought into our lives. It is my prayer for myself. I share it with you, that you may join with me in praying this both for me, and the man who will follow me. I follow the prayer with a great, but nearly forgotten hymn, by the godly Puritan, John Bunyan. I share it with you all for our mutual encouragement.
MY PRAYER FOR MYSELF:
O MY LORD,
Let not my ministry be approved only by men,
Or merely win the esteem and affections of people;
But do the work of grace in their hearts,
Call in thy elect,
Seal and edify the regenerate ones,
And command eternal blessings on their souls.
Save me from self-opinion and self-seeking;
Water the hearts of those who hear thy Word,
That seed sown in weakness may be raised in power;
Cause me and those that hear me
To behold thee here in the light of special faith,
And hereafter in the blaze of endless glory;
Make my every sermon a means of grace to myself,
And help me to experience the power of thy dying love,
For thy blood is balm,
Thy presence bliss,
Thy smile heaven,
Thy cross the place where truth and mercy meet.
Look upon the doubts and discouragements of my ministry
And keep me from self-importance;
I beg pardon for my many sins, omissions, infirmities,
As a man, as a minister;
Command thy blessing on my weak, unworthy labours,
And on the message of salvation given;
Stay with thy people,
And may thy presence be their portion and mine.
When I preach to others let not my words be merely elegant and masterly,
My reasoning polished and refined,
My performance powerless and tasteless,
But may I exalt thee and humble sinners.
O Lord of power and grace,
All hearts are in thy hands, all events at thy disposal,
Set the seal of thy almighty will upon my ministry.
A HYMN FOR OUR ENCOURAGMENT
He who would valiant be
‘gainst all disaster,
Let him in constancy
Follow his master.
There’s no discouragement
Shall make him once relent
His first avowed intent
To be a pilgrim.
Whoso beset him round
With dismal stories
Do but themselves confound;
His strength the more is.
No lion can him fright,
He tho’ with giants fight,
He will make good his right
To be a pilgrim.
Hobgoblin nor foul fiend
Can daunt his spirit,
He knows he at the end
Shall life inherit.
Then fancies fly away,
He’ll fear not what men say,
He’ll labor night and day
To be a pilgrim.
I want you to know that, by God’s grace, I shall not be dissuaded from this calling by friend, foe, or circumstance until the day in which I leave this precious place. I shall use all that is within me, and all the grace Jesus gives me, to offer you Christ from the Bible and to set a godly example as your pastor.
Through Jesus, I shall not be discouraged and we together shall triumph.
Blessings in Jesus