The Final 9

Dear brothers and sisters,
 
In 9 months, I will yield the presidency of the ARC to Tom Kelby. in agreement with the MMC and the Assembly of senior pastors.Honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased than I am with this new path. I just got off the phone with Tom regarding a particularly challenging situation in one of our churches and it was deeply gratifying to hear his heart on that matter. He has done this before in Spooner and elsewhere and he will be excellent, I believe in this new role.

However, I have 8-9 months remaining in my tenure and I simply want to share my heart for what I believe are the most central issues that lay before every leader of the flock of Jesus. So I’ll try to at least portray how I see the central priorities for the next season which of course may be somewhat different than yours. But I’ll do my best to avoid being a “lame duck” and genuinely seek to serve the churches and leaders of the ARC and of Jesus fo these next 9 months.
 
In 9 months, I will yield the presidency of the ARC to Tom Kelby. in agreement with the MMC and the Assembly of senior pastors.Honestly, I couldn’t be more pleased than I am with this new path. I just got off the phone with Tom regarding a particularly challenging situation in one of our churches and it was deeply gratifying to hear his heart on that matter. He has done this before in Spooner and elsewhere and he will be excellent, I believe in this new role.
However, I have 8-9 months remaining in my tenure and I simply want to share my heart for what I believe are the most central issues that lay before every leader of the flock of Jesus. So I’ll try to at least portray how I see the central priorities for the next season which of course may be somewhat different than yours. But I’ll do my best to avoid being a “lame duck” and genuinely seek to serve the churches and leaders of the ARC and of Jesus fo these next 9 months.
 
Priority #1—Worship and Prayer
 
I thought of a few other things to start, like “Jesus”, “The Gospel”, “Orthodoxy”, “Grace” etc but I don’t think I can rank them properly. So let me take my best stab at this and we’ll talk along the way.I have often said when describing discipleship that we are always looking at 3 things generally:
  • Worship (not corporate worship primarily but the regular presentation of one self as a living sacrifice a la Rom 12:1-2)
  • Community (the life together of the flock of Jesus, marked by love)
  • Outreach ( the incarnational activities of Jesus)
And this Worship piece has everything to do with the ownership of Jesus relative to the gospel truths. I think prayer is the most primary act of worship. It is a fundamental turning away from self to a Father and Savior who have repeatedly promised to meet all of our needs. So the spiritual discipline of a daily prayer time is important. Jesus did it and taught his disciples the same. And we might argue as to the “daily” nature of it but for sure esus was leading to a posture of “praying without ceasing” which clearly was His disposition. John’s gospel is replete with these kind of self descriptions by Jesus: “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, the Son does likewise. For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he is doing” (Jn 5:19-20)
 
How did all this “seeing” and “showing” occur? In the midst of a clear relationship of submission of the Son to the will of the Father, that was shown to Jesus especially during his 3 years of redemptive ministry. Adam failed in this relationship as a son to the Father. Jesus did not. Jesus worshiped the Father by how hw paid attention and made his entire life trajectory and goal to serve the interests of the Father. Not my will but thine be done is at the core of true worship. And Jesus remains the bedt example of that posture.
 
Tim Keller has written a fine book entitled “Prayer”.I haven’t read better. He states “Prayer in all its forms–adoration, confession, thanksgiving and petition–reorients your view and vision of everything. Prayer brings new perspective because it puts God back into the picture”.–p.129.
 
In my work with churches, I don’t always hit the right key. But my best prayer goes something like this: “Jesus, what are you doing here, in this particular situation? How do I serve your interests in this place”. And then I listen, sometimes here a piece of direction and always “show up” in the middle of situations that are often confusing, disordered or in some state of distress. And sometimes I come into places that are doing splendidly and I get to encourage as many heart as will listen. But my approach must be one of worship and submission to Jesus who alone is the rightful owner of his people and his mission.
 
And as I conclude this first short piece of my last 9 months, it all feels so woefully insufficient. But really, it;s enough. You have all been so gracious to me, accepting me in my giftings and dysfunctions. And beyond all of that is a perfect Savior who takes our often paltry offerings and somehow multiplies a little into a lot to feed his precious flock.
 
Peace and grace to each one of you
 
Ned