On Sunday my nephew, Mark, is joining the great ranks of God’s Under-Shepherds when he becomes the new pastor of Frinton’s Baptist Church – affectionately known as The Free. Having been an Under- Shepherd for over 40 years myself I still count it the greatest privilege of my life when The great Shepherd of the Sheep appointed me to help Him look after His sheep. I also found it the greatest challenge to keep in touch with the Great Shepherd and make sure I was in tune with what He wanted, even when sometimes the sheep didn’t like it. Having to lead them to pastures free of racial prejudice, free of sexism and ageism, free of perfectionism and legalism, and free of traditionalism was tough going at times. Leading them out into searching for other lost sheep when all they wanted to do was stay in the sheepfold and wait for them to come in by themselves was hard. Holding their hand and helping them step out of their comfort zone and truly experience the Holy Spirit was so rewarding …if they did it !
Mark is going to be stretched and tested as never before, but we do sense that if he never forgets he is only an under shepherd, and gives Jesus his best shot, he’ll do OK because its not down to us men. Mark has got a good spiritual DNA. His Dad is an outstanding Christian business man, and has been on the leadership team of two Baptist churches. Before that he and Mark’s mum had a tremendous youth ministry. Mark’s grandpa was church secretary of Homelands Baptist church in Walton and helped pioneer the work there and build their church at the Triangle. A bit further back in Marks family line is Bishop J C Ryle who was a famed mover and shaker in the Church of England becoming the first ever Anglican bishop of Liverpool, which in the 1800’s was a closed city to the C of E.
He famously said:
A zealous man only sees one thing, he cares for one thing, he lives for one thing, he is swallowed up in one thing; and that one thing is to please God.
Whether he lives, or whether he dies,—whether he has health, or whether he has sickness,—whether he is rich, or whether he is poor,—whether he pleases man, or whether he gives offence,—whether he is thought wise, or whether he is thought foolish,—whether he gets blame, or whether he gets praise,—whether he gets honour, or whether he gets shame,—for all this the zealous man cares nothing at all.
He burns for one thing; and that one thing is to please God, and to advance God’s glory.
If he is consumed in the very burning, he cares not for it,—he is content. He feels that, like a lamp, he is made to burn; and if consumed in burning, he has but done the work for which God appointed him. Such a one will always find a sphere for his zeal. If he cannot preach, and work, and give money, he will cry, and sigh, and pray.
Please join in me in praying Mark will be such a one, that his fire doesn’t have cold water poured on it, and that the Great Shepherd will take delight in His newly appointed assistant and the two of them will together bring about a new appreciation in Frinton of the jewel in our crown, our glorious Lord Jesus Christ.