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A Pastor’s Reflection on the Last Decade

Written by Joe Bartemus on

Does the thought of the approaching a new year lead to anxious thoughts? As we anticipate what’s to come, let’s encourage our hearts by pondering these five biblical truths:

God Is Sovereign

In my past two decades as a pastor, I’ve witnessed many changes in our church and nation: new buildings, new leaders, thousands of new congregants, two pastors, and dozens of elders. And our nation has had four presidents. Sometimes I miss the old days and people. But God is still on the throne. Over these years, we’ve wrestled with theological debates on end times, Calvinism, baptism, justification, inerrancy, and presidential elections. But God is still on the throne. I’m so glad, as a new year and a new decade begins, the King is still on his throne.

God Is Gracious

Paul is the apostle of grace. In Acts, Luke records Paul’s conversion experience three times, allowing us to see grace up close and personal. Personally, I can see grace upon grace in my two decades of marriage to my wife Cathy and in the arrival of eight grandkids (four of whom have made professions of faith).  As a pastor, I’ve also seen God’s grace in our church, through times of pastoral transition and growth. Many churches struggle in these times, but God was gracious. He has graciously given College Park a bigger family of churches, and Cathy and I are privileged to minister at the Greenwood congregation. These and many other examples of God’s grace excite me to see more.

God Is Redeeming a Church of Diverse People

As we see in Revelation 7, God is saving a people from all nations. We have seen his great work as we are a part of evangelizing the unreached. May that effort never cease. On a local level, my heart is full and warm as I see ethnic diversity becoming a reality at College Park. I love the people of many ethnicities who meet with our church’s Diversity Discipleship Discussion Group (3DG), and I love the leaders who are joining arms to lead Christ’s church in pursuit of better reflecting Revelation 7. To God be the glory.

The Lord Is returning & Resurrection Is Real

I do not think the Lord’s return is so much a destiny as it is a goal. The prayer, “Come, Lord Jesus” from Revelation 22:20 is a cry for completion more than it is a cry for speed. Our prayer must be, “Finish your work in the world and my life.” We are privileged to partner with God in his kingdom work. Our labor is not in vain.

As a pastor, I have officiated several funerals this last decade and I am hopeful in anticipation of the resurrection— when God will finish his work and reverse the curse. As the decades come and go, I see my funeral coming sooner than I used to imagine. And it is a good reminder: may I (and we) be faithful until the end.

We Must Persevere

As 2020 is almost upon us, I cannot think of a more fitting admonition than the letters to the seven churches in Revelation 2 and 3. They all end with a call to faithful perseverance—not perfection. Let’s keep up the good fight of faith. I cannot wait to see what God will do in 2020. Let’s strive in his strength as his people to do all for his glory—soli deo gloria.

Joe Bartemus

Joe serves as the Pastor for Theological Development & Shepherding at  Crosspointe Community Church in Greenwood, Indiana. There, he is also an elder and has been a part of the church since it was first adopted into the College Park Family of Churches. Joe is passionate about helping people to know God in his Word by his Spirit.

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