A few weeks ago, I preached my first sermon as the Lead Pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Waverly, Iowa. It was such a joy to open the word together with this particular expression of Christ’s body. We looked at John Chapter 3, the scene where John and Jesus and their disciples are baptizing in the river outside the city. The discussion comes up from one of John’s disciples about why everyone is going to Jesus, and using a wedding analogy, John’s reply highlights the sovereignty of God determining John’s role, not as the groom, but as the best man, and the implications of that role.
John the Baptist is one of the best examples of being a pointer to Christ in the Gospels. He is consistent, over and over again, to highlight the glory that belongs to Jesus. As the best man, he rejoices at the sound of the groom’s voice (John 3:29). He stands near and listens in on the wedding vows. John describes the feeling he has, seeing Jesus and his disciples receiving more people to be baptized at the river that day, saying, “this joy of mine is now complete,” because he’s witnessing it firsthand. John has been watching since the ministry of Jesus began, when Jesus first came to be baptized, now John is experiencing a completed joy in seeing others be baptized by Jesus.
As I have spent time with the believers at Grace Baptist Church, I have seen hints and glimpses of qualities of the next generation of the leaders in the church. As I dream about the fruit that might come from that, I automatically think about Bethlehem College & Seminary. I pray that these young students could one day attend Bethlehem College & Seminary and experience the joy that I did there. It is intensely rigorous, but the education is worth the effort.
God continues to use prayer partners and financial supporters like you to make this kind of “completed joy” possible. I have been so blessed by my education at Bethlehem College & Seminary, and now as I launch into ministry with zero debt at a small church in rural Iowa, I can’t wait to see how God makes my joy complete through the next generation of Bible-saturated, theologically-strong leaders being sent to every corner of the globe. Experience serious (completed) joy with me, and be part of making the Serious Joy Scholarship possible.
MABPS, ’17 & Lead Pastor, Grace Baptist Church
- Please pray for us as we transition to this new community, especially for our children transitioning into a new school and making new friends.
- Pray for our old and new house to close well in the coming weeks.
- Pray for Jonathan as he bears the shepherding and preaching mantle for the first time.
- Pray for Grace Baptist Church, that they would grow in their love for God and his Word.
- Pray for the filling of the Alex Steddom International Student Fund. The immediate need for this coming school year is $38,500 to support René and Chying Chying, with further funds needed for the 2019-2020 school year and an additional international seminarian.
- Pray for our faculty, staff, and students as they prepare for another school year and to welcome new students.