All posts by: Anthony Stephens

I am using this month like many others to recognize and show my appreciation for the “pastors” that God has brought into our lives. These are the specialized ones that comes into our lives and shepherd us towards what God is wanting to do in us.

In this post, I want to take time to appreciate a man named Dan Perez. Many know him as “Dan the Man” because that is what he is.

Dan Perez was one of my first Sunday School teachers as a teenager. I really think that Dan lost some bet in a youth workers’ meeting when you look at the teens that he was tasked with keeping an eye on in the youth group. Actually, when you spend any amount of time with Dan, you will quickly see that he has a heart for people to know Christ.

Dan Perez has been one that God has used to guide me in great ways. He was so much more than just someone to lead a lesson on Sunday mornings. He took time with his class. He had us in his house. He would get to know us personally and use that knowledge to point us in a good direction.

I am will forever be grateful to Dan (and his sweet wife, Nina) for the ways that they have and are pouring into my life and the life of my family.

October has been set aside as “Pastor Appreciation Month.” I have always thought that this was a little silly. It is like the joke that goes around the church where I serve as pastor: “we got to appreciate you a little.”

When it comes to showing appreciation to your pastor, I think that it would be good to understand who those “pastors” are. Just because a person holds a position in a church, it does not mean that they have been a pastor. Just because a person does not hold the title of “Pastor” (of any kind) that does not mean that he or she is not serving in that role.

During this month, I want to take some time to recognize some of the people who have been “Pastor” to me. These are people that the Lord has placed in my life over the years to help me become what God desires.

In this post, I want to talk about my appreciation for the man I consider my first pastor: Joey Savell.

Joey was the youth pastor that God used in great ways to disciple me as a teenager. When I had been burnt by “church as usual”, this guy was leading a ministry that was reaching out to students both close to God and very far from Him. I am so grateful that he was obedient to the Lord (even when it cost him MANY of confrontations in deacons’ meetings).

Joey has been there for me ever since God called me into the ministry in the summer of 1996. He took me under his wing and gave me opportunities to learn and grow in my faith and calling. He has always been one that I could call up and share my heart with. He has definitely been given the gift of “telling it like it is.” It has been good when I have needed a voice that was going to shoot me straight that I could call on this man.

The apostle Paul never was married, he did play a parent role (spiritually speaking) in a few people’s lives. Just as Timothy and Titus are referred to as Paul’s sons in the ministry, Joey has served as a father in the ministry to me and other people throughout the years.  Thank you for all that you do, Joey!

I have been one that likes music for as long as I can remember. Different genres of music can be found on my playlists and radios: rock, rap, country, swing, folk, etc.

I have been accused a few times in the past of being born in the wrong generation because of my music taste. I’m on the tail end of Generation X (born in 1979). While my childhood was in the 1980s, and my teen years in the 1990s, if I had my choice of music, it would probably be the classic rock of the 1960s & 70s.

In 1965, a group known as The Byrds released their hit song “Turn, Turn, Turn.” The song would go on to be #1 on the Billboard Hot 100 by end of that year. This song is taken just about word for word from the English version of Ecclesiastes 3.

In this passage from the Bible, we see King Solomon sharing some of the wisdom that God had granted to him as he recognized the reality of seasons. King Solomon saw that there was a time and place for everything under the sun. There were even seasons in life.

Contrary to what we may experience where I live, there are typically four seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Around here (north Mississippi), we see most of these seasons regularly. Each season gives way to the next and moves on again.

Some people see seasons in life. They could think of spring as the childhood years of life where children are born and grow at speeds like no other time in their lives. Summer might be those adolescent years where you are carefree and enjoying life. Autumn would come with adulthood as one seeks to settle down and begin to reap the harvest of what was sown in prior years. Winter would represent the elder years of our lives where we begin to slow down and rest more.

I can see that picture playing out easily. I believe that there are many who share that picture of how the seasons may look in life. I think this because I hear people say that it’s time for a younger group to pick things up and do them because they’ve done their time. These would be those who see themselves as in the winter season.

The problem with this picture is that it is a linear picture of the seasons that plays through one time. In this picture, the seasons play through one time and then they are done. What we see in nature is that the seasons are not so linear but rather circular. They pass from one to the other and then start again.

I have seen this circular picture of seasons in life many times. I can remember many springtimes where God started a new work in my life (salvation, called to ministry, marriage, parenthood). I have experienced the other seasons many times as well.

The one thing that the circular view of the seasons of life shows us is that no matter what season that you are in a new season is around the corner. As long as we are here on the earth and there is breath in our lungs, a new season will be coming. It may seem like certain seasons are longer than others, but the next season always comes.

With this in mind, it is important that we as Christians not get trapped into the thought that “we are done” and just waiting on the bus to take us to heaven. If God were truly finished with His work in us, we would not be here on this earth. We would be with Him in heaven enjoying the eternal rest prepared for us from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34). The fact that we are still here on this earth proves that God is not done with us.  We may find ourselves experiencing a winter season of rest, but we need to be on the lookout for the spring that is around the corner.  It may be something completely new that the Lord has never done before in or with us.

Let us make sure that we are not checking out before we are supposed to.  Seasons come and seasons go, but we can be sure that God is working through each of them.

Title: Pastoral Theology: Theological Foundations For Who A Pastor Is and What He Does

Author: Daniel L. Akin and R. Scott Pace

Publisher: B&H Academic of Nashville, TN

Overview

Pastoral Theology is a book that seeks to build a theological framework for pastoral ministry that is “biblically derived, historically informed, doctrinally sound, missionary engaged, and contextually relevant.” The book is divided into three sections: Trinitarian Foundation, Doctrinal Formulation, and Practical Facilitation which have three chapters in each section.  There is a section at the end that shows where different Bible references were used throughout the book.

Thoughts

The work of pastoral ministry is one that is not for the faint of heart.  There are so many expectations and demands on the one who chooses to follow the Lord’s calling and serve the local church.  Akin and Pace have put together a great work that will help any aspiring pastor to understand what God has called him to and have a solid theological foundation as he serves the Lord.

While Pastoral Theology may be seen by many as a textbook of sorts, the authors have done a fantastic job in writing in a way that it does not seem academic.  The authors use a practical approach to help equip pastors to see that the work that they have been called to is one that must be rooted in a solid theology.  I love how the book is soaked with Bible references and not just popular thoughts of what a pastor should be doing today.

Recommendation

I would agree with many of the persons that are noted at the beginning of the book giving small reviews that Pastoral Theology is a book that every person aspiring to do the work of a pastor should have not only on their bookshelf but in close reach to help and remind what they are to do and why they should be doing it.

I am no musician. I do have a guitar that I attempt to strum a little now and then. One thing that has always been a regular routine is that when I take the guitar out of its case and before I start playing it, I have to tune it up.

It is interesting that no matter if you play the notes or chords correctly or if you have the correct rhythm, if the instrument is not in tune, then it doesn’t sound right… it is just noise that irritates.

I think Paul said it this way:

If I speak human or angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1 CSB)

Not only do our instruments need tuning, but our lives do as well. Check out this song by Austin Stone Worship, and may it help you tune your life to the proper “key” today in order to be the disciple of Jesus that we should.