Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Ponderings from Fellow Pastor

I want to direct your attention to some writings from my friend and fellow pastor Barry Maxwell. Barry is an especially gifted writer, who also thinks deeply, has a pastor’s heart and has walked through some of the tough valleys of pastoral ministry. All of this shows up in the short pieces of his which his wife, Amy, has posted on their website . I am edified by reading Barry’s stuff and I think you will be, too.

As a starter, let me recommend the one entitled, “On Loving Ministry.” Here is an excerpt:

Loving ministry is more than loving the act of preaching, teaching or counseling. Loving the idea of preaching is a love for words. That’s a love for having folks listen to you. Truly loving ministry means loving preaching so much that you invite hell to the ring to meet God’s power. And the fight is not waged with mere words, but with power. There is no diplomacy in Christian ministry—only artillery. And loving ministry means fighting a real enemy with sticks and bats, spikes and knives, not negotiating with it with clever speeches. Loving ministry is not merely loving the fruits of ministry, but getting our hands dirty in the soil to plant the seeds.

Loving ministry means devotion to see God’s power transform lives and overcome ultimate evil ultimately. Loving ministry is to welcome the worst in people because that is where God is at work. Loving ministry is fighting in the ring with hardened husbands and broken wives, cheating spouses and damaged children, abusive families and oppressive regimes. Christian ministry is not being impressed by tri-color, glossy brochures but being compelled by war-torn, blood-stained letters crying for reinforcements. It is a life spent behind enemy lines in shallow trenches.

As pastors, our lives are devoted preach words, teach words, arrange words, counsel words and write words. Yet, Christ’s church is not led by clever wordsmiths, but by men abandoned to swim in the deep with bloodthirsty sharks. If not careful, pastoral ministry can become a mere lifelong accumulation of words. And when the words fail we fail. At that point our effectiveness is only as strong as our vocabulary.

Thanks for being willing to share your ponderings with all of us, Barry. May the Lord continue to bless and use you for His church.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the blog! I agree with you, BJ's writings are very good. Another great article on his website is "Cherish the Pulpit-It may very well kill you"

Anonymous said...

I want to thank you for your blog. As a pastor, I'm trying to be very careful with my time and don't ever want to fall into the trap of spending too much of my time reading different blogs, but yours is well worth the time and the Lord has used it for the nourishment and conviction of my soul. Interestingly, I knew of you via Barry (My wife and I count BJ and Amy, by God's grace, our best friends in the ministry), so I thoroughly enjoyed your post today. I thank the Lord for BJ, and agree completely that his writings will deeply benefit the souls of those who have been entrusted with the oversight of souls. And the article Scott pointed out is a good read for any preacher just before he preaches! I often read through it on Sunday mornings as part of my preparation. Another personal favorite of mine is "Am I Lame Enough?" Thanks Beej!

Anonymous said...

First of all, it must have been a slow news day for you, Ray. Second of all, my thoughts of last resort are hardly the musings of a godly man. Your kindness simultaneously embarasses me and encourages me. Thanks for your wisdom and efforts, dear brother.

(No, thank you, Steve!)

Ray Van Neste said...


Far from being a 'slow news day', I have had the basics of this post typed up for almost a week but events have prevented me from getting it posted. The point of telling more folks about your writing was on the original list of ideas I had in mind when I launched the blog. I know it will encourage others and I hope it does indeed encourage you.

The part I struggled with was a title. I thought of, "Read Maxwell, Get Smart" (but you have to be my age or older probably to get that one!), or "Maxwell House, Good to the Last Drop."