just got back from a day in chicago (tinley park) at Parkside Christian Church where my good friend, Tim Harlow was sponsoring a day for encouraging pastors. He has been at this church for 19 years and it has grown from a couple of hundred to nearly 5,000. He has a great heart for ministry and is just a great friend. He brought in a guy named Dave Stone who pastors at the Southeast Christian Church in Louisville KY. We go way back. First time we met he was speaking at a weekend at my first full-time church (this was 1987) in Lexington KY. Since then, our paths have crossed many times in ministry and we both find ourselves following Sr. Pastors who had been there for decades (his 40+ and mine 32+). I've always admired his humility and ability to speak and relate so well to others. Maybe that's why God assigned him a church of 19,000 people! I was nurtured by his teaching time today. His encouragement to continue to grow spiritually so that as pastors we don't become statistics of failure spiritually speaking. Here are some quotes I picked up:
I'm just a nobody trying to tell everybody about Somebody who can save anybody.
It is easier to say "no" when there is a deeper "yes" within you.
too often the people in our churches go from prodigals to older brothers (luke 15 reference).
Anyway, the speaking was only part of the day. My cousin and 27 year ministry veteran was there. He ministers at a church in Deer Creek and he is hands down one of my heroes. First teen I ever knew that visibly and vocally lived out his faith as he starred on his high school football team. He preached at my ordination. Years later it's awesome to talk preacher shop as peers. As you can imagine, the conversation at lunch gave us a chance to catch up on all kinds of family stuff and memories. my heart was refreshed.
Also got to ride up and back with JP Jones from Champaign, IL. Just a really good friend and I really treasure our time together bantering back and forth about ministry stuff and preaching, etc... He has a great heart and passion for ministry and is way beyond his years in wisdom.
Finally, I got to have supper with Dave, Tim, JP, Bill (tim's executive pastor) after the conference was over. It is rare for a bunch of pastors to be able to let their hair down and just laugh and talk openly. It is refreshing. My face hurts from laughing. What a completely blessed day. I have had a very refreshing time of ministry recently, but today was extra refreshing. I praise God that I get to have a calling and not a job. There's nothing else I'd rather be doing.