Encouragements from General Assembly

Dear Church Family,

Last week I had the privilege of attending the PCA General Assembly in Greensboro, North Carolina. If you’d like a summary of the news from General Assembly (GA), head over to byfaithonline.com/news. Overall, the Assembly was an encouragement to me. I had the opportunity to attend several seminars, serve on the Committee of Commissioners for Discipleship Ministries, and participate in the work of the General Assembly itself.

Let me share a few brief encouragements. First, one seminar I attended was hosted by the Gospel Reformation Network (GRN). Visit gospelreformation.net for more information on the work of the GRN and to access some excellent resources. The GRN was started by several PCA pastors who want to cultivate healthy, gospel-centered, confessional churches in the PCA. The network was initially started in response to unhealthy teaching about sanctification in our beloved denomination, but the network has expanded its purpose to promote the following seven marks in PCA churches:

1.      Biblical Fidelity and Confessional Integrity

2.      Gospel-Driven and Christ-Exalting Ministry

3.      Earnest Prayer & Expository Preaching

4.      Intentional Evangelism & Personal Discipleship

5.      Godly Leadership & Presbyterian Polity

6.      Reformed Worship and Vibrant Community

7.      Missional Clarity & Church Multiplication

A second encouragement came from serving on the Committee of Commissioners for Discipleship Ministries (CDM). CDM exists to connect people to biblical resources and to help the local church make disciples. You can visit the website (pcacdm.org). The Committee of Commissioners I served on reviewed the work of CDM and made recommendations to the GA to expedite the work of the assembly. What encouraged me was CDM’s commitment to equip local churches with solidly biblical and robustly reformed resources. I also learned about an exciting new curriculum CDM has put together for Junior High Students titled Genesis to Revelation (G2R). This Sunday School material leads students through the Bible over the course of three years and helps them see the unfolding of God’s plan in redemptive-history and its fulfillment in Jesus Christ.

Another encouragement was being able to take Kelsey and the girls to GA for the first time. It was a great joy to worship as a family with thousands of brothers and sisters in the PCA. Kelsey profited from a seminar led by Michael and Melissa Kruger on being a pastor’s wife.

A final encouragement is resources gained. The amount of resources available at GA is overwhelming. Each year I bring home books that help me better serve you. This year I focused on finding theological resources for counseling and found many helpful books. I’d like to recommend a few to you. 

David Murray, Reset: Living a Grace-Paced Life in a Burnout Culture

Do you ever feel exhausted, depressed, anxious, stressed, or joyless? This book is about burnout. It identifies the warning signs of burnout and offers practical strategies for living at a sustainable pace. This book is greatly needed today.

Kelly Kapic, Embodied Hope: A Theological Meditation on Pain and Suffering

Kapic avoids ivory tower musings that try to neatly solve the problem of pain. It is a pastoral meditation on suffering that focuses attention on the example of our Lord Jesus who became a man, suffered, died, and has been raised again.

Aimee Byrd, No Little Women: Equipping All Women in the Household of God

This book addresses the roles of men and women in the church. The author encourages women to be mature women of the word and to use their gifts in service to the church. It also challenges church leaders to nurture and use the spiritual gift of women in the church. I hope the ladies and leaders of our church will read this book.

Mark Jones, God Is: A Devotional Guide to the Attributes of God

There is nothing more important in life than knowing and loving God.  This book will encourage and challenge you to do both.

William Edgar, A Transforming Vision: The Lord’s Prayer as a Lens for Life

If the recent sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer has you interested in studying the Lord’s Prayer further, start with Edgar’s book. Edgar helps readers appreciate the depth of the Lord’s Prayer.  More than a liturgical mantra, the Lord’s Prayer teaches us to pray and informs a biblical worldview.

Christopher Ash, Bible Delight: Psalm 119 for the Bible Teacher and Bible Hearer

If you sometimes struggle to want to read the Bible, read this little commentary on Psalm 119. The goal of the book: to help you delight in and love God’s Word.

Timothy Witmer, Mindscape: What to Think About Instead of Worrying

Sometimes we are slaves to our own sinful thought life. This book reminds us that that gospel transformation involves the progressive transformation of how we think. In other words, sinful patterns of thought, which cause stress, anxiety and worry, can be changed by God’s grace and replaced by biblical patterns of thought. Mindscape is a practical action plan for changing your mental landscape by informing it with biblical truth. Highly recommended.

Most of these books are available for purchase from the PCA bookstore.

I want to thank you for making it possible for me to attend General Assembly each year. It is a joy and privilege to participate in the work of the broader church, and it is a joy and privilege to be your pastor.

With love and gratitude,

            Pastor Jared