Pastoral Letter on Politics

By | Pastoral Letters

Friends, As you may have heard, there will be a national election in a few short weeks. Given that reality, I wanted to share with you a few thoughts on politics. I’m not able to say everything in this short letter that I might. And there’s nothing that I’ll say that in this letter that is really profound. But I thought it might be helpful for you to hear a few simple things from your pastor.  First, I want you to know that you should feel free to participate as much as you feel called to do so in the political process. In God’s providence, you are part of a constitutional republic, and you should feel every freedom to participate as much or as little as you feel called to do so. This might include voting, openly supporting particular political candidates or issues, engaging in political debate with friends or neighbors, or even running for political office yourself. I support you in these endeavors, and believe these are all practices Christians may freely engage in.  But, if you choose to engage in these kinds of political activities, I encourage you to do so intentionally as a Christian. This, of course, means…

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Pastoral Letter of Encouragement

By | Pastoral Letters

Dear Colleyville Family, I know that this season has been profoundly challenging for each of us, and for our church as a whole. I know that it has been, without a doubt, the most challenging period of my pastoral ministry (and I don’t expect those challenges to end any time soon!). I know that you each have your own stories of difficulty and grief and frustration during this time. I am thankful that so far, the Lord has spared us from death or serious harm from the virus itself, but all of us have suffered in various ways due to the broader societal changes the virus has brought. Some of us have lost work, or suffered other financial loss. Many of us are missing out on special experiences, things long planned and anticipated that now will be impossible to replicate or replace. All of us are suffering from isolation and the normal joys of life in community with one another. And yet, I want you to know that I am also seeing and hearing many beautiful things in our congregation that are encouraging me during this season, as I speak with you and hear your stories.  As you enter into…

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Coronavirus Pastoral Letter

By | Pastoral Letters

Dear Colleyville Family, It has not been quite the restful Spring Break I had hoped for! I’ve spent the past several days in the office in communication with our Session and church staff and other leadership, all the time monitoring the situation with the Coronavirus. As you may have heard, today Tarrant County declared a state of emergency and is recommending that all public gatherings be cancelled if possible. Our Session had yesterday already made the decision to suspend all church activities and events outside of Sunday worship before this announcement by Tarrant County was made. But now that we have received this recommendation from our governing authority, our Session has also very reluctantly decided to suspend worship this Sunday, March 15. Please know that this decision was not made lightly, and not without much prayer and discussion. I am very aware that some of you may feel that this is an overreaction on our part, and to be honest, it may be. But, based on the information we have at the moment, it seems the wisest thing to do, and our Session is unified in this decision to suspend gathered worship this Sunday. Along these lines, I will be…

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New Year’s Resolutions & the Means of Grace

By | Pastoral Letters

January 2019 Dear Colleyville Family, As believers, we know that time is not an arbitrary human invention, but the Lord himself put the lights in the heavens “for signs and for seasons, and for days and years” (Gen. 1:14). And indeed, the turning of the calendar to a new year is a natural time to pause and take stock of our lives, and consider the year to come. In fact, I would encourage you to take an evening or two in the next week or so, alone or with your spouse if you are married, and ask yourself a couple of questions – 1) What has the Lord been teaching me in the last year? 2) What are my hopes (and resolutions!) for the year to come?  As your pastor, I am not very qualified to give you advice about losing weight or balancing your checkbook, but when it comes to your spiritual life, I would like to give you some counsel. If one of your desires in 2019 is for increased spiritual growth for yourself and your family (and I hope it is!), I would urge you to consider the central role of the means of grace that God…

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What is Advent?

By | Pastoral Letters

An Introduction to Advent Advent is a season in the church year often considered exclusively as a preparation for Christmas. While this notion is part of the meaning and purpose of Advent, it does not tell the full story. In reality, Advent is much more than just four weeks to prepare for the coming of the Christ child. The season of Advent is about all the comings of Jesus. The word “advent” is from the Latin advenire which means “to come.” This includes, but does not limit itself to, the coming of Jesus when he was born as a man. There are three distinct comings of Jesus that are in view in the season of Advent. The first coming is in the past—the birth of our Lord Jesus over two thousand years ago in the Israelite town of Bethlehem. The second coming is his coming at the end of history and is the bodily return of Jesus Christ to judge the earth and make for his people the New Heavens and New Earth, where those who trust in Jesus will live forever with him in resurrected and gloried bodies. These two comings, or Advents, of Jesus are indeed glorious, yet…

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Resources for Praying, Singing, and Studying the Psalms

By | Pastoral Letters

August 2018 Dear Colleyville Family, Martin Luther, in his preface to the newly translated German Psalter in 1545, wrote this: “In my opinion, any man who will but make a trial in earnest of the Psalter will very soon bid the other pious prayers adieu, and say, ‘Ah, they have not the sap, the strength, the heart, the fire, that I find in the Psalter; they are too cold, too hard, for my taste!’” I began making my own earnest trial in praying the psalms eight years ago, and I have to say that I am in complete agreement with this wise pastor’s words. My hope is that we as a congregation will continue to grow together in our appreciation and use of the these ancient prayers given to us by the Spirit to pray in union with Jesus himself. As a follow up to my sermon this past Sunday, I wanted to send a pastoral letter to you sharing some of the most helpful resources I have found on the psalms. This is a long list, but I want to share with you some of the wealth I have discovered in my own studies in the hope that you will find some…

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Church Calendar

By | Pastoral Letters

Beloved in Christ, Though at times we may instinctively divide our lives into categories titled on the one hand, “spiritual,” and on the other, “everything else,” the reality is that the spiritual life is not something that we can relegate to only a part of our experience as human beings. Rather, to grow spiritually means that whatever it is we do—eat, drink, pray, sing, speak, rest, work, play, etc., should be done under the guidance of, and by the power of, the Holy Spirit. Not least of these human activities that we seek to bring under the Spirit’s direction is the way that we mark time itself. Since they are made in God’s image (he who made the passing of the seasons and marked one day out of seven as holy), human beings in every culture have always practiced different ways of keeping time. The question is not whether we will distinguish one day from another, and mark the passage of time with special (or holy) days, but how we will do it. Our culture keeps time in its own way, of course—a calendar that is centered on official “national holidays” (or holy days) when we are encouraged to rest…

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Thoughts on Lent

By | Pastoral Letters

More and more evangelical Christians these days are seeking to engage in the season of Lent in the church year. Here are some brief thoughts offered regarding these practices. This is not all that could be said, nor is it intended as a rejection of the season (which is clearly part of the historic tradition of the church) — merely pastoral advice in response to how some modern evangelicals seem to keep Lent. — In the Old Testament, God gave Israel a “church calendar,” describing how she was to live in community as the people of God during the year. In that calendar, the Lord commanded Israel to keep something like 80-90 days of feasting (52 Sabbaths, the feast of Passover, the feast of Unleavened bread, the feast of Firstfruits, the feast of Weeks, the feast of Trumpets, and the feast of Booths), and only one day of fasting (The Day of Atonement). Read Leviticus 23 to feel the weight of this ratio. If we emphasize the entire season of Lent as a season of fasting (40 days), we may be in danger of reversing the biblical ratio of days of feasting to days of fasting.

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Reading God’s Word

By | Pastoral Letters

Beloved in Christ, What does it mean to practice an ordered spiritual life that is centered on God’s word? That’s the question I would like to turn to this month, building on the ideas that we began to consider in last month’s letter. Very simply put, this kind of life means to be in the regular habit of reading (or hearing) the scriptures, trusting that they are in fact a means by which God himself speaks to us. The question of motivation is central to this practice. We must not seek to build a habit of reading God’s word as a means of securing his favor toward us or elevating our spiritual life in comparison to those around us. Not only will these motivations fill us with pride before God and others, but they also will never sustain a lasting spiritual life. If we are truly to grow in our reading of God’s word, we must do so with humility—because we trust that God will speak to us in his word, and we truly believe we need his voice to live day by day. Another way of saying this is given to us in the words of Jesus: “Man shall…

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The Centrality of Worship

By | Pastoral Letters

Beloved in Christ, Over the past year, my pastoral letters to you have largely focused on the spiritual life, especially the disciplines of a daily life of prayer and scripture study. With that groundwork, I now want to turn our attention to the spiritual discipline which undergirds all others – our participation in the worship of God on the Lord’s day with the gathered body (I likely should have begun with this topic in the first place!). There are many conceptions of what Christian worship is, or ought to be, in the wider evangelical world. In my mind, the best way to understand Christian worship is through two different, though related phrases. First, we should say that Christian worship is a time and place of holy adoration to which we are summoned by Christ our King. But that is not  the only description we should use. For Christian worship is also a time and place of rich nourishment to which we are invited by Christ our Host.  A time and place of adoration as well nourishment. A summons as well as an invitation. A God who is both King as well as Host. In my estimation, we must hold each…

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