Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Ordination to Coronation

Last night I had a chance to attend a gathering of Assemblies of God pastors from all over North Texas. They had an ordination service for new Pastors receiving their ministerial credentials. The speaker for the evening was Dr. George Wood who is the current leader of the Assemblies of God. He has been on the job for less than a year, but is bringing a lot of new, good ideas to the table.

Dr. Wood's message was geared toward these newly credentialed pastors, but of course it resonated with all of us. He started by quoting from Steven Covey's book, the 7 habits of highly effective people, "Begin with the ending in mind." It's important to know your destination at the beginning of the journey. He talked about the apostle Paul who, near the end of his life wrote these words:

2 Timothy 4:6-8 (New Living Translation)6 As for me, my life has already been poured out as an offering to God. The time of my death is near. 7 I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, and I have remained faithful. 8 And now the prize awaits me—the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will give me on the day of his return. And the prize is not just for me but for all who eagerly look forward to his appearing.

Dr. Wood challenged all of us to do three things; fight the good fight, finish the race, and keep the trust. In fighting the good fight, he talked about how sometimes there are good fights and bad fights in ministry. He had a great top 10 list on how to know the difference.

(10) It’s not with your spouse.
(9) You don’t loose a single fruit of the Spirit before, during, or after the fight.
(8) You can lay your head on the pillow at night, having lain to rest any anger or bitterness.
(7) You gain nothing for yourself by winning.
(6) You don’t lose the war because you insisted on winning one battle, or you voluntarily lose a round in order to win the contest.
(5) You can help the other person to get back up.
(4) You fight fair even though the other guy doesn’t.
(3) You fight from principle rather than the power or prestige of your office. If you must frequently throw your weight around, you may be overweight.
(2) You still get back up after getting knocked down three or more times.
(1) At the end, the devil hurts worse than you do.

He talked of a time he was called in to a small church that was going through division. An 83 year old man, who had run off several pastors in the past was very concerned. Dr. Wood asked, "What are you concerned about?" "This new pastor has moved the nursery from the back of the church to the front of the church without any consultation." Dr. Wood asked him, "Do you have any children in the nursery?" "No." "Do you have any grandchildren in the nursery?" "No." Then Dr. Wood said, "Then the nursery is none of your business!" He went on to admonish the man and tell him that he should be more concerned about reaching people for Christ in the last part of his life and less concerned about these trivial matters.

He went on to talk about "finishing the Race." In the 1968 Olympics
in Mexico City, Tanzanian runner John Stephen Ahkwari was the last runner in the marathon.

He came in about an hour and a half after the winner, practically carrying his leg, as it was so bloodied and bandaged.

Film Director Bud Greenspan asked him, “Why did you keep going?” He said, “You don’t understand. My country did not send me 5,000 miles to start a race they sent me to finish it.”

Here is the video (duration 2min:19sec): Click here if you can't see it

There is an interesting comparison between the words Paul uses at the end of his life in I Timothy, and the words he uses earlier in I Corinthians:

1 Corinthians 9:23-25 (New Living Translation) 23 I do everything to spread the Good News and share in its blessings. 24 Don’t you realize that in a race everyone runs, but only one person gets the prize? So run to win! 25 All athletes are disciplined in their training. They do it to win a prize that will fade away, but we do it for an eternal prize.

Earlier in his life he spoke in terms of running the race and winning, however now he is saying that he has finished the work that God has called him to. Finishing is what matters most. But not only has he finished, he has remained faithful.

Dr. Wood concluded by encouraging all of the ministers to look at the responsibility of leading, teaching, and pastoring as a trust given to us by God. To hold firmly to the word of God and be unwavering in teaching sound doctrine. If we can keep the end in mind from the beginning, fight the good fight and keep the faith, then at the appointed time we can say like Paul, "the prize awaits me."

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great "perspective" reminder. Thanks to Pulse I'm reading your blog again. Hey I was in Bonham, TX on Wednesday night. Bobby sang at Living Word Church of God, pastor Brian Rayburn. It was a good service. I sure do like the speed limit in TX!