Thursday, December 14, 2006

Desiring A Good Work

Trip Recap: December 8 & 9, 2006

The first leg of our trip was centered around attending the ordination of our good friend and dear brother in the church, Brother Steve Woods. It was my first time to visit the Fort Smith Primitive Baptist Church, and each of us was welcomed warmly during our time there.

On Friday evening, we learned through the sermons that were presented by Elder Charles Surbaugh (Isaiah 2:1-5 "O house of Jacob, com ye, and let us walk in the light of the Lord", the covenant between God the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, and the new testament church) and Elder Adam Green (Hebrews 9:13-15 "And for this cause He is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgresions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance", that God the Father required the currency of man (Christ) to pay the debt of man (sin).) Those thoughts have very much remained on my mind throughout the week.

When we returned for the the ordination services the next morning, the church building was packed with brothers and sisters from several states. It is wonderful to see so many good friends in one place and so strongly feel God's presence in the room. The ordination was carried out with Elder James Isaacs being nominated to question the candidate, Brother Woods. I have not witnessed a better questioning session... extremely detailed and thorough... good in following the biblical outline for the qualifications and traits to be held by an elder (or bishop).

1Ti 3:1 ¶ This is a true saying, If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work.
2 A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife, vigilant, sober, of good behaviour, given to hospitality, apt to teach;
3 Not given to wine, no striker, not greedy of filthy lucre; but patient, not a brawler, not covetous;
4 One that ruleth well his own house, having his children in subjection with all gravity;
5 (For if a man know not how to rule his own house, how shall he take care of the church of God?)
6 Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil.
7 Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

As Elder Isaacs read through this portion of scripture, pausing at each comma to question the church representative or candidate, I reflected on the men that I know who turn to these pages regularly to remind themselves of the standards by which they are trying to live each day - not necessarily to be worthy of the office of elder, but striving to be a obedient man before God... just as I know many women who regularly meditate on Proverbs 31. I appreciated the way Elder Isaacs questioned the church and Brother Steve on these matters (and many other doctrinal matters) so that no points were grouped together and each point noted in this passage of scripture was given full attention. Brother Steve cited several scriptures in his answers before Elder Steve Jackson presented a charge surrounding I Thessalonians 4:9-11 "that ye study to be quiet." The highlight for me was as it always is in an ordination service: when the fellow elders and deacons of the presbytery kneeled while surrounding Brother Steve, laying hands on him, while a prayer is being sent up to God to bless him in his work as a pastor and teacher. Many tears were shed and embraces were shared between the men before the congregation passed through to share their happiness with Brother Steve and Sister Susan. One of my biggest regrets from our trip was that I was not able to take a picture of the two of them, but I believe John, Lydia and I will remember that service for many years to come.

Even though our visits have been limited (there's never enough time to talk about everything about which we'd like to talk), I am very thankful for the discussions Brother Steve and I have shared and for our friendship. As we continue to pray for you, may God richly bless you in your calling, Brother Steve!

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