“Pastoral Ministry is holy, sacred work. We are heralds of a divine message. We are ambassadors for Christ. We are stewards of the gospel. We are shepherds who are charged to oversee the block of God, which He purchased with His own blood (Acts 20:28). We are servant-leaders and must be examples of Christian integrity and maturity. This requires vigilant self-watch. Paul instructs, “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by doing so you will save both yourself and your hearers” (1 Tim. 4:16). You cannot watch over the congregation if you do not know how to watch yourself. If you do not examine yourself and maintain your spiritual devotion to Christ, your ministry will become mechanical. You will go through the motions of ministry while your heart is hardened by the deceitfulness of sin.” (H. B. Charles in On Pastoring)
- Happy Monday friends!
- I’m not a huge pro football fan but Super Bowl LI was incredible.
- I would have preferred for my home state Falcons to win but it was not to be.
- Tom Brady has ice water running through his veins.
- He is amazing to watch!
- I think the funniest thing I saw after the game was a meme that said, “The Falcons won the popular vote. #NotMySuperbowl”
- We had a wonderful morning at North River Church yesterday.
- I began working through a series on the book of Nehemiah called “Let’s Build!”
- If you would like to listen you can do so here.
- We are moving into an exciting phase in the life of North River Church.
- I’m ready to see God show up and show off as we follow him in obedience.
- It will take a lot of prayer and a lot of sacrifice for this dream to become a reality.
- God has great things in store for our church and I am excited to see his hand at work.
- I have read some great books over the last month that I thought I would share:
- A Life Intercepted (Charles Martin)
- A Change of Heart (Thomas Oden)
- Water to Wine (Brian Zahnd)
- Transfer of Power (Vince Flynn)
- God is the Gospel (John Piper)
- Survive or Thrive: 6 Relationships Every Pastor Needs (Jimmy Dodd)
- My goal is to read 52 books this year and so far I am right on schedule.
- There are few things I enjoy more than reading.
- It helps me grow as a follower of Jesus and as a leader.
- Reading fiction books also helps give my mind a break.
- If you are not a big reader of non-fiction books you should pick one up.
- If all you read is non-fiction grab a good fiction book and get lost in the story.
- It’s time to get back after it!
“People do not need to know that pastors are human just like them. They need to know we are godly. They need to know we are Christlike. They need to know we are humble. They need to know we are faithful. People, both within the church and outside of it, need pastors who are men of God. This has nothing to do with your title or the way you dress of how spiritual you are on the platform. Real pastors do not merely act or talk or look a certain way. They live a certain way; they are a certain way. Of course, pastors are not perfect. We are in need of God’s grace just as much as the people we minister to are. But our high calling demands a firm commitment to live godly lives. As pastors, we should live in such a way that people would not only know we are pastors if we told them. Yet once we tell them, they should not be surprised.” (H. B. Charles, Jr. in On Pastoring)
- Yesterday was a lot of fun as we had our first annual Tailgate Sunday at North River Church.
- If we can tailgate a football game…plan ahead…get there early…stay late…eat together…then we can do it for a worship service!
- We also baptized 3 people yesterday.
- It never gets old seeing people take the step of publicly proclaiming what Jesus has done in their lives.
- I’m blown away that we are only 2 weeks away from Thanksgiving.
- How in the world is it already Thanksgiving?
- I guess it is time for nights by the fire pit and pumpkin spice lattes.
- Our staff will be heading to the Florida Baptist Convention tomorrow.
- I’m grateful for the cooperation that exists between our SBC churches in the state of Florida.
- Sure, things are not always rosy and beaurocracy can be frustrating.
- But a lot of good is done both in Florida and around the world because our SBC churches are united.
- This is one of the reasons I am proud to be a Baptist!
- I’m also proud to be a UGA fan…especially after a surprise win against Auburn this past weekend.
- It’s going to take a couple of years but I’m convinced Kirby will cultivate a team that contends on a national level once again.
- Everyone was completely caught off guard with the results of the election this past week.
- Stay tuned to the blog as I will detail some of my thoughts on the election and what lays ahead for our country and the church.
- There is a lot to get done this week so I’m going to jump back on it.
- There is nothing like being productive while Bob Dylan plays in the background!
- I know, I know it is really Tuesday.
- But lightning hit the internet box while I was typing Monday Musings so I had to get back to it today.
- We had an incredible day at North River Church on Sunday!
- Even though the morning started off a bit rocky (we had no AC for the first 30 minutes of the service and in Florida that means it was HOT), it ended on a wonderful note with our church officially calling a Family Pastor to join the staff at North River Church.
- The search team has been walking through this process for about 7 months now and I am once again reminded how God’s timing is always perfect!
- We have a guy coming on board who I would describe as a “unicorn.”
- He has both children’s ministry experience and student ministry experience and will do an incredible job leading those ministries at NRC.
- I am incredibly blessed by the team that God is bringing together here at North River Church and I’m convinced we have only seen just a glimpse of what God wants to do!
- In other news, my Dawgs lost a heartbreaker to Tennessee this past weekend. When I say heartbreaker I mean one of those moments when you feel like your heart is ripped out of your chest.
- I had no idea my emotions could swing that fast in the span of 10 seconds!
- I’m proud of them though.
- They played much better against Tennessee than they did the week before against Ole’ Miss.
- They are young and I know Kirby will get them where they need to be.
- Take out a couple of mental errors and it would have been a much different game.
- I have been working through a couple of books lately that have been really good.
- I have been reading Andy Andrew’s book The Seven Decisions.
- He is a phenomenally gifted writer!
- I have also been reading David Baldacci’s book The Collectors for fun.
- This is the second book in The Camel Club series.
- We will be closing on a house October 19th.
- This is exciting for us to finally be able to sink down roots in Parrish.
- My folks are coming to town this weekend for our youngest’s birthday.
- To Orlando we go on Saturday.
- The American Girl store will never be the same.
- Stay tuned for next next week!
The best and final gift of the gospel is that we gain Christ. “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” (Phil. 3:8). This is the all-encompassing gift of God’s love through the gospel – to see and savor the glory of Christ forever.
In place of this, we have turned the love of God and the gospel of Christ into a divine endorsement of our delight in many lesser things, especially the delight in our being made much of. The acid test of biblical God-centeredness – and faithfulness to the gospel – is this: Do you feel more loved because God makes much of you, or because, at the cost of his Son, he enables you to enjoy making much of him forever? Does your happiness hang on seeing the cross of Christ as a witness to your worth, or as a way to enjoy God’s worth forever? Is God’s glory in Christ the foundation of your gladness?
From the first sin in the Garden of Eden to the final judgment of the great white throne, human beings will continue to embrace the love of God as the gift of everything but himself. Indeed there are ten thousand gifts that flow from the love of God. The gospel of Christ proclaims the news that he has purchased by his death ten thousand blessings for his bride. But none of these gifts will lead to final joy if they have not first led to God. And not one gospel blessing will be enjoyed by anyone for whom the gospel’s greatest gift was not the Lord himself. (John Piper in God Is The Gospel)
– It has been 2 months since posting a Monday Musings or even a regular blog post…I would offer an excuse but I’m guessing “the dog ate my blogpost” would probably not go over too well!
– We have some exciting things going on at North River Church and I’m grateful to pastor such a great group of people whose primary desire is to love Jesus and make him known.
– So far this year (through July) we have baptized 24 people and 46 have partnered with us as members (with more ready join). This is incredible! God is working!
– I only have one sermon left in our Joseph series. I think it has been a great series for our church. If you would like to listen you can here: www.gonorthriver.org/sermons
– On August 21st I will be delivering a “State of the Church” message where I will focus on casting vision for where God is leading us. I’m excited about what God has done over the last 7 months but I’m even more excited about what I believe he will do!
– I’m also pumped about having a candidate for our Worship & Discipleship Pastor position coming in view of a call on the 21st. He is fantastic and I can’t wait for our church to meet him and hear his heart for ministry.
– It is fun to be building a team to do ministry with at NRC.
– We are continuing to look for a Family Pastor and have had some great interviews recently. I love the next generation and the thought of having someone on our team pouring his life into our teenagers and kids is exciting!
– I have been slacking the past several weeks but finally got out and went for a run this morning. It felt good. Exercise is such a vital part of maintaining my sanity!
– Our girls start school on Wednesday so the next couple of days will be filled with last minute shopping, open houses, and final preparations before getting back to a more fixed routine.
– It is hard to believe our baby will be in Kindergarten this year! She is growing up! We will also have a 3rd grader. I’m excited that they will be at the same school.
– It is finally August…which means we are less than 1 month away from college football starting! I can’t wait to plop down on the couch and eat boiled peanuts while watching college football.
– That is all for now. I need to finish up a couple of things before heading to K5 open house later this afternoon.
– We had an incredible day yesterday as we celebrated the next generation.
– We dedicated 7 of our kids to the Lord yesterday!
– I love to see parents who are passionate to raise their kids to know and love Jesus.
– Parents have more influence in their kids’ lives than anyone else.
– I’m so passionate about this that I wrote a book about it: Parent-Driven Discipleship.
– We also recognized one high school senior yesterday who graduated.
– He is an incredible guy and I can’t wait to see how God will use him in the future.
– God has definitely blessed North River Church with a tremendous amount of kids and teens.
– This is a great blessing and a great responsibility.
– In media news…Clint Harp (the woodworker on Fixer Upper) has a pilot episode coming out called Against The Grain (June 14th at 10:30pm on DIY).
– An entire show about woodworking…I’m pumped about this!
– Speaking of woodworking…I’m almost done with the coffee table I started building a week or so ago.
– I need to figure out what the next project will be!
– Yesterday, I decided to begin the B90x Bible reading program after someone I follow on Instagram mentioned they had done it several times.
– It’s simply (in terms of a plan…not necessarily completing it) because you read through the Bible in 90 days.
– I have completed 2 of 90 days so far.
– Feel free to ask me how it is going and send some encouragement!
– Maybe I should do P90x at the same time…
– I missed posting yesterday since it was a holiday but figured I would catch up today with Monday Musings.
– We had a fun Memorial Day weekend and even had the chance to go to the beach after church on Sunday.
– We love living here in Southwest Florida, especially since we are only about 30 minutes from the beach.
– You should definitely make your way down here for a visit if you are looking for a place to vacation. Two of the top 10 beaches in the US are 30 minutes from our house.
– I have a fellow pastor buddy who lives down here that uses this hashtag #ilivewhereyouvacation.
– I’m still working through the book of Romans during my morning time with the Lord.
– It is so rich and I’m itching to preach through it one day soon.
– Speaking of preaching, I will begin a series this Sunday through Genesis 37-50.
– We will look at Joseph’s story and how God used him in spite of terrible circumstances.
– I think we struggle to see at times how God can use our struggles to shape us and that he can use us in spite of our struggles.
– I’m praying for this series to be one that encourages and challenges our church.
– This past week I finally jumped on board the Instagram bandwagon.
– You can follow me @mkennedyjr.
– Last Friday I started building a coffee table out of wood from my great grandmother’s house (the house was built right after the Civil War). There are pictures on my Instagram account.
– I love woodworking. Since I spend most of my time working with my mind it is good to work with my hands.
– I also dropped off some of that same wood to a pen turner here locally so that he can turn a fountain pen for me. I got the kit from Penn State Industries.
– I’m really excited about getting this pen back!
“Hurry is the great enemy of spiritual life in our day. You must ruthlessly eliminate hurry from your life.” (Dallas Willard)
I have yet to meet a Christian that does not have a desire to grow spiritually. In fact, I have experienced the exact opposite…they want to grow and they want to know God’s Word more deeply. They desire an authentic and vibrant relationship with the Lord. They want to see it change their lives.
Yet, it seems like such a struggle…
I think the above quote by Dallas Willard is the key to understanding the struggle. It may seem too simplistic but it is reality. The frenetic pace of our lives coupled with a desire for instant gratification hinders spiritual growth and health.
Let me explain:
(1) The frenetic pace of our lives. For whatever reason we have adopted the mentality that we must be doing something every second of every day. We wake up and turn on the news or pull-up our Facebook app. We get in the car to head to work or school and immediately turn on the radio. We have practices to get our kids to and workouts that need to get done. Dinner has to be cooked or picked up. Homework…TV shows…work email…and the list goes on and on. We have all but eliminated any opportunity to spend time in the Word or in prayer. The time is there but we have so scheduled every second of every day with things (some are very good things) that we have no time for the most important thing…cultivating a relationship with our Savior. Hurry is killing us spiritually!
(2) The desire for instant gratification. Growing spiritually takes time. There is no quick fix for spiritual growth in the same way there is no quick fix for weightloss. If you want to lose weight you must burn more calories than you take in over an extended amount of time. The same holds true if we want to grow spiritually…it takes extended time in God’s Word over a number of years. And here is the secret no one may tell you…you never arrive! The Christian life is a journey. It is a race…a race that ends when we meet our Savior face to face (and ultimately, physical death is really just the beginning!). We are not running a 50 yard dash. We are running a marathon and marathons take time to complete. They also take determination…a willingness to put one foot in front of the other for 26.2 miles. Our only hope to grow spiritually is to daily put one foot in front of the other with the Spirit’s help. You can’t hurry this process.