“Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58
On Thursday August 11, 2016, I had the singular privilege, as a Bethlehem pastor, to bring a word of encouragement to the remarkable faculty and staff of our College & Seminary. What would you say, if asked to address this group? My exhortation to them was based on 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Press on.” I affirmed the mission of the school as expressing my own heart for the men and women enrolled in the college and seminary.
Mission: “…we exist to spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ by equipping men and women to treasure Christ above all things, to grow in wisdom and knowledge over a lifetime, and to glorify God in every sphere of life.”
As a pastor, living and serving “in the trenches” of pastoral ministry, I then chose to narrow the focus upon the men who are being trained in the seminary as future “vocational elders” (pastors) in local churches around the world. My aim was to encourage those involved in educational leadership at Bethlehem Seminary to “press on” in pursuing these 12 biblical priorities:
1. Call the men to find their ultimate joy in God. “Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.” Psalm 37:4
2. Call the men to feed their souls on the word. “Your words were found, and I ate them, and your words became to me a joy and the delight of my heart, for I am called by your name, O Lord, God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16
3. Call the men to depend upon God in prayer: “With my voice I cry out to the Lord; with my voice I plead for mercy to the Lord.” Psalm 142:1
4. Call the men to cling to the Vine. “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5
5. Call the men to watch out! “Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.” 1 Timothy 4:16
6. Call the men to love their wives: “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.” 1 Peter 3:7
7. Call the men to this great work of eager shepherding. “…shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain, but eagerly; not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock.” 1 Peter 5:2-3
8. Call the men to feed their flocks. “When they had finished breakfast, Jesus said to Simon Peter, “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” He said to him, “Yes, Lord; you know that I love you.” He said to him, “Feed my lambs.” John 21:15ff
9. Call the men to guard the truth: “He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.” Titus 1:9
10. Call the men to train and equip their people: “[W]hat you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:2) “[E]quip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ…” (Ephesians 4:12)
11. Call the men to expect suffering! “Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 2:3)
12. Call the men to await the everlasting crown of life. “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” (James 1:12)
May God do what He lives and loves to do; namely, honor His name and fulfill His promises – to the students and the churches they will one day serve until Jesus returns.
Dan Holst Lead Pastor, Bethlehem Baptist Church, North Campus
1. Pray with us, as New Student Orientation begins tomorrow, for a smooth transition and relationship building for our students and for our staff and faculty as they serve.
2. Pray for students and faculty as classes begin Monday.
3. Pray for the filling of our new Alex Steddom International Student Fund.