“. . . striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” (Philippians 1:27)
This post is difficult to write, not because the news is so horrible but because it is so wonderful. But first, the backstory.
Since her first public ministry on Easter Sunday 2008, Immanuel Church Nashville has experienced the most striking, sustained blessing of the Lord I have ever seen. Even as the risen Jesus breathed on his little band of fearful disciples and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit” (John 20:22), he breathed upon us at Immanuel, with obvious effect. Pastoring Immanuel wasn’t a non-stop joyride. We all worked hard, did our best, and made some mistakes. But the divine beauty resting upon that church, the heart-melting culture of honesty, gentleness and joy – we didn’t mastermind it. The Lord led us into those green pastures and beside those still waters, for the display of his glory.
The Acts 29 Network encouraged us all along the way. We love all our friends in A29.
Then in 2019 Pastor TJ Tims received the Lead Pastor position at Immanuel, with my joyful support. The church continues to bear fruit, and I love worshiping there when I am in town.
Since the pastoral succession at Immanuel, Jani and I have been serving together with Renewal Ministries, the non-profit my dear dad and mom handed down to us. At RM we believe that, in a world of exhaustion, everyone needs renewal. So Jani and I speak, mentor and write, spreading the life-renewing gospel of Jesus, especially among younger leaders. Our Board is fantastic, and we couldn’t – and wouldn’t – do this without them.
Now Jani and I find ourselves in our 70s. We feel like we’re in our 40s. We feel more energized now than we ever have before. But we won’t be feeling this great forever. Sooner or later, something bad will come take us out. Fine. At last, we’ll see Jesus – and be fully alive forever! But until then, we are resolved to keep serving his cause of renewal and revival and awakening with everything we’ve got.
That is why I am thrilled to announce a new path of service now opening up to me. The Right Rev’d Clark W. P. Lowenfield, Bishop of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast in the Anglican Church in North America, has graciously called me to serve him as a Catechist and Canon Theologian. He has kindly extended the same call to my dear friend, The Rev’d Sam Allberry.
The Bishop’s tender heart for the Lord, his sacrificial courage for the advance of the gospel, his steadfast faithfulness to the truth of the Bible, his bold and sustained prayers for revival – all this, and more, has endeared him to me and stirs me to labor with him for the sake of these sacred glories.
Jani and I will keep serving with Renewal Ministries, and we’ll keep worshiping at Immanuel Church. But now I rejoice in this added dimension of ministry within the ACNA. I am profoundly grateful, and I purpose to steward this privilege with reverence, by God’s grace.
The ongoing life of prayer, so deeply embedded in the Anglican tradition, will do my soul a lot of good, I am sure, as I walk these final years of my earthly pilgrimage.
So now, to my amazement, I find myself “striving side by side for the faith of the gospel” with so many in the Anglican Church whom I have long admired – like J. C. Ryle, Charles Simeon, C. S. Lewis, John Stott, Festo Kivengere, Alec Motyer, Derek Kidner, J. I. Packer and Bruce Waltke. I am unworthy.
God has been good to me.
And if you think of me, please pray for me. Thank you.
This post was originally published on The Gospel Coalition