Lasting Leadership

I just read a fantastic book this past weekend called Leaders Who Last by Dave Kraft. In this work he states that only 30% of Christian leaders actually finish well, and as such he writes to remedy this serious issue. Kraft is worthy of writing this book, having served 38 years with the Navigators training leaders, and now doing the same at Mars Hill Church in Seattle. There are a number of great insights, some of which I will share in the next few days, but I thought this quote was worth pondering.

“The greatest and most pressing need in the body of Christ today is an army of leaders who have a vision of a desired future and are called and anointed by God. These leaders possess a fire burning in their hearts that can’t be extinguished. They are motivated and led by God to intentionally, passionately, and effectively influence others.” (24)

This is an incredible statement and one that is difficult to deny. If we desire to see our ministries go further, we need to be godly leaders who aspire to train up others to be Kingdom leaders as well (cf. 2 Tim. 2:2). We need leaders who are called and anointed by God, who are passionate for the things of God, and seek to direct others toward holiness and mission. This statement really set me to thinking, and my hope is that I will be such a leader and will aspire to train others for Kingdom work in effective ways. May God multiply a movement of godly leadership for His glory.

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Ready to move

After a hectic few months the Kimble family is finally ready to transition to Lima, OH and begin work with Teens for Christ. As I have stated in previous posts we are going to be working with the Youth Ministry Institute, a part of the ministry that works with college interns looking to train for full-time vocational ministry. It is an exciting venture, and one that we are ready to join up with.

As of this past week regarding PhD work at Southeastern Seminary I am now officially ABD (all but dissertation). I met with my committee for comprehensive exams this past Thursday for two and a half hours as they questioned (i.e. interrogated) me over a number of theological issues. It really was a great time with these men of God, I am thankful for the time with Drs. Bruce Ashford, Ken Keathley, and, my major professor, John Hammett. God has been so kind through this educational process and now I just have the dissertation ahead of me. If you are looking at seminary level education you cannot do better than Southeastern.

After I finished that exam in the morning I drove the two and a half hours back home and we packed our moving truck that evening. Thanks to the friends from our adult class at church who assisted us, it was a fantastic time. We will be arriving in Lima on Monday and hit the ground running. God is good.

With the transition my hope is to be much more consistent with this blog. I also hope to narrow my focus a bit and really hone my posts onto four primary areas: spiritual formation, leadership, communication (i.e. preaching and teaching), and the church. I feel these are areas that best align with my passions and knowledge base, so we’ll see how it goes. To our God who is able to do far beyond all that we can ask or think, to Him be the glory (Eph 3:20-21).

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Renew Your First Love

As I was driving down to North Carolina yesterday for a class I was listening to some sermons by Jim Hamilton on the book of Revelation (you can check out his sermons at the website of Kenwood Baptist Church). A number of great things were said by Jim, but I especially appreciate his thoughts on Revelation 2:1-7 as Jesus speaks to the church at Ephesus.

“To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands. ‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first.Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent.Yet this you have: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.  He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To the one who conquers I will grant to eat of the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.’”

So much could be said about this passage, but it is worth noting that Jesus says a number of positive things about this church. In many areas they are doing quite well. However, there is one area of deficiency that could undo all the good that this church has accomplished, namely, they have abandoned the love they had at first. In essence, they had become lax as it relates to keeping the first and greatest commandment, to love God with all of your heart, soul, mind, and strength.

Many of us can remember the early days of our relationship with our spouse, or when our children were first born, how excited we were and how willing we were to sacrifice a number of things because of the joy we derived from these relationships. Many of us can also remembers when we first met Christ in salvation, and the burning zeal we had for our Savior, and our willingness to lay it all down because of the satisfaction we had found in Him. Unfortunately, without proper tending, the fervor we had for these relationships can cool, and this is especially the case in our seeking to love God.

So what do we do? How do we restore that first love? Jesus states in this text that we should remember from where we have fallen and repent. In other words, as Hamilton so helpfully points out, we should preach the gospel to ourselves constantly. Study your Bible and see the blazing holiness of God, and like Isaiah see your utter sinfulness in the presence of that holiness (Isa 6). Dwell there, don’t move to soon, we need to see the depths of our sin. But we do not stay there. As we gaze at the holiness of God and understand the depth of our depravity we recognize that God made a way to peace and reconciliation by sending Jesus, His Son, as the satisfactory atoning sacrifice on our behalf for our sins. He lived a perfect life proclaiming the kingdom, healing, and teaching, died on our behalf, and was vindicated three days later as he rose from the dead. He ascended and is now at the right hand of the Father, and will return to set up his eternal kingdom someday. This is good news, the gospel. Preach this gospel to yourself constantly, and as you see holiness, justice, grace, and redemption, your love for Him will burn anew. May our hearts be alive to the truths of the Scripture and the realities of our eternal inheritance in Jesus Christ, which will enable us to love God and forsake the petty idols and temptations of the world.

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The Youth Ministry Institute

The semester is over, and I am still finishing up a good chunk of grading, so a more substantial post will have to wait a bit longer. I just wanted to post a video here that gives a snapshot of the ministry we are joining up with in Lima, OH.

One thing not mentioned in this video is the fact that students earn their degrees through online studies with Baptist Bible College. This is the college Rachel and I graduated from, and I can tell you students will receive a quality education from this institution. Basically, interns with the YMI will work on their studies in the morning, then turn to ministry responsibilities in the afternoons, and then lead several chapter meetings throughout the week. We will be working mainly with this college ministry in teaching, training, and mentoring these students for vocational ministry. I would also mention that this institute is open for anyone looking into full-time ministry, including those interested in pastoral ministry or missions. I believe the model we are seeking to develop will assist those looking to go into any facet of ministry.

You can check out more regarding the ministry of Teens for Christ and also hear more about our story in joining up with them. If you have any questions about YMI or are looking to donate toward this cause, please feel free to contact me.

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Update on the Kimbles

It has been quite a while since I last posted on this blog, but it has probably been my toughest semester of studies ever. With time being spent on two doctoral seminars, my first semester of mentorship with my major professor, as well as a course detailing the various facets of the field of theological studies (and I still have a big exam to take for this course in two weeks), along with work and family, I have been hard pressed to find time to dedicate to writing for site. But alas, the semester is coming close to an end, and I am thankful for all that God has taught me during this time, both in the classroom and through life in general.

The highlight of this semester in as it relates to courses has to be the seminar I took with Nathan Finn on the History of Spiritual Awakenings. In essence, this has been a course detailing the history of revivals, looking mainly at the first and second Great Awakenings here in America, but also looking to other movements as well. It has just been an encouragement to see the many times throughout history when God has moved with power in the midst of His people as they seek Him through humility and contrition, prayer, a dedication to the Scriptures, fasting, and confession and repentance. It seems that oftentimes we are not expecting great things from God, and we are quite content to live in the mundane existence of church as usual. I am certainly not disparaging the regular pastoral “grind” that often includes consistent preaching, prayer, counseling, visitation, and the like, I would just exhort us all to live in expectation and pray for God to do great and wonderful things in our midst for His glory. If you are interested in this subject matter you could check out A God-Sized Vision, by Colin Hansen and John Woodbridge, or Global Awakening by Mark Shaw.

In other news, as my coursework for my PhD is coming to an end (I should finish early this fall Lord willing, and then just have the dissertation left) my family and I will be relocating in August from Lynchburg to Lima, OH where I will be working with a ministry called Teens for Christ. This is a ministry we know well since I was a youth pastor in Lima from 2003-05 and the director and I have been good friends for a number of years. I will be working mainly with the college internship they have developed there, known as the Youth Ministry Institute, where college students looking to train for full-time vocational ministry can come, do their coursework online through Baptist Bible College, and get solid mentoring, training, and experience with the ministry there. This is the best of both worlds, as students will be able to get an education from an accredited institution, while also working with a ministry that will give them four years of intentional ministry experience. I am ecstatic as I will be personally involved in mentoring students, developing and teaching courses, and training them in their ministry endeavors. This institute was only begun about three years ago, and we see great things coming in the days ahead.

While we will be working to enhance and expand the scope of the Youth Ministry Institute, and, Lord willing, more college students will be joining up with the program, we are looking to raise financial support for the first two years. You can check out the whole story at my Razoo site and also give toward this cause at that site if the Lord so leads you. We are excited to be joining up with this ministry in general as God continues to do unbelievable things through them, and also to take part in an educational model that will be such a help to those desiring to go into ministry. In any case, we are trusting God to provide for this window of time, He has been so faithful to us in our lives, and we believe He will supply our needs and do great things. Above all my hope and prayer is that we would embrace the reality that the only enjoyment with which our souls can be satisfied is God in all His magnificent glory.

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Temporary Hiatus

Due to an unbelievable load this semester for my PhD my posts at this site will be sparse over the next few months. I hope to get back into the swing by May, and until then I will look to post when possible.

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Prayer and Fervency

The most well known text of Scripture combining prayer and passion is found in James 5:16- “The effective [or fervent] prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” E. M. Bounds, in his chapter on this topic, makes an excellent point regarding the fervency we need to be pray in an effective manner.

To be absorbed in God’s will, to be so greatly in earnest about doing it that our whole being takes fire, is the qualifying condition of the man who would engage in effectual prayer.” (35)

This kind of engagement with reading God’s Word, seeing His will plainly, and seeking to be absorbed in doing it will lead to fervent prayer, both as a means of attaining this kind of lifestyle as well as a result of being so caught up with the things of God. And lest we mistake the reality of it, the will of God is that which is expressed in the Scriptures, specifically our sanctification or growth in Christ-likeness (Eph 5:17; 1 Thess 4:3; 5:16-18). And, to avoid another categorical error, this being absorbed with doing God’s will does not lead to self-absorption, but rather a passion to love God, serve others, and live in such a way as to make the glory of God go public throughout the world.

If our ultimate desire as Christians is to know God and make Him known for the glory of His name and the joy of our souls, it will require a deep-seated passion that is rooted in the truth of Scripture and expressing itself through obedient, fervent, faith-filled prayer. May we be red-hot in our devotion to God and may this come through in our prayers to Him.

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