Preparation for Ministry in a Fallen World


I know a good number of people who have already dealt with the challenges of caring for aging parents. It can be very difficult—especially if there are severe physical limitations or if dementia is one of the causes of the need for care. I have observed these dear friends and relatives carry out one of the most demanding, yet profound, acts of love a person can offer to his or her parents. I have been inspired by their selfless acts of grace and charity towards their parents and parents-in-law. I have also wondered, would my wife and I would be called upon to do the same. Well now, in God’s providence, we are in that situation.

We have prayed about this possibility over the last few years as the inevitability of it became clearer. Our prayers were not so much should we do it, but rather, could we do it. I’m convinced it is always the right thing to do if one is in a position to do it. Two passages of Scripture have continually been in my mind as we’ve thought of this prospect: Exodus 20:12 and John 19:26-27.

The Exodus verse is, of course, the fifth of the Ten Commandments and is clear and straightforward:

“Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you.”

The passage in John’s gospel is more subtle, but perhaps even more profound:

“When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’ Then he said to the disciple, ‘Behold, your mother!’ And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.”

Jesus was hanging on the cross, bearing the sins of the world, in utter agony, and yet he was still thinking about his earthly mother and her well-being. In this act of love and mercy, he asked the apostle John to view Jesus’ mother as his own and to care for her, and he did so by taking her into his home.

In these two passages, the Lord has made clear to me the importance of observing both the general principle of the law (Exodus) and the specific example of the grace and mercy of Christ (Gospel of John) as he cared for his mother’s earthly needs—even as he was dying on the cross.

What does any of this have to do with the mission and vision of Bethlehem College & Seminary? Just this: while we anchor ourselves and our students in the inerrant truth of the Word of God, we also recognize that preparation for ministry in a fallen world requires that they be prepared for the inevitable challenges of life that will either come upon them directly, or will come upon those to whom they will be ministering in their churches and ministry organizations. The commands of Scripture must not only be understood and believed, they must also be lived out. This demonstrates for the world the true power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Tim Tomlinson
Bethlehem College & Seminary

Chancellor John Piper’s Message, from the
President’s Reception: “Unpacking Serious Joy”

Our chapel series for 2015 has ended. Chapel will resume on Thursday, January 14, 2016.


Prayer Requests:

1. Please pray for our board of trustees as we meet this week. Pray for wisdom and blessing on these men and their leadership over this ministry.

2. Please pray for our students as they are on the home stretch of the semester. Pray that they finish their courses well and that they learn all that they should learn in the process.

3. Pray also for the admissions process for next year’s class that is in full swing right now. We have more applicants than ever before and the job of sifting through these applications requires great wisdom and discernment.

4. Please also pray for our finances. As we head into this most important month of December, pray with us that the Lord would raise up many more contributors so that we may be able to cover all of the Serious Joy Scholarships for this year. This is a tall order, but not for the Lord!