I grew up in a Christian home, accepted Christ when I was 6 years old, was baptized at the age of 12… but most of the time I spent in church during my childhood was more out of duty than anything else. Mom and Dad made me go, and I didn’t want to make God angry, so I went.
As I got older, I grew closer to the LORD. There were some unforgettable moments when the reality of the Gospel became clear to me- that though I was a sinner deserving of the wrath of God, God poured out His judgement for my sins on His Son, Jesus Christ, in my place. I remember getting lost in worship, pouring my heart out to the LORD in praise and prayer. I started serving any way I could- whether ushering, handing out bulletins in church, mentoring younger guys, or eventually getting out and evangelizing to others. Even going on mission trips and getting involved in student and children’s ministries! I was very eager to serve God and love my neighbor in whatever opportunities were available.
In the summer of 2005, I committed to spend the next year serving as a college and young singles pastor at a church in Norman, OK. I had just graduated with an MBA from the University of Oklahoma, and turned down the opportunity to pursue some lucrative jobs in business. Instead, I raised my own salary from ministry partners, working for next to nothing for this church. It was one of the happiest times in my life. I had been called by God into ministry and was ready to serve Him with all my heart.
The pastoral leaders at my hometown church, Heights Baptist Church, in Richardson TX recognized a call of God on my life and so agreed to ordain me on Sep 11, 2005. The pastor, Dr. Gary Singleton had been a big influence in my life and very helpful for me as I began to navigate the world of ministry. So I’m fired up, singing “I surrender all” every day in my heart, ready for him to give me a powerful commission to serve as a minister of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. So imagine my surprise, when he began his charge to me and the other man who was being ordained at the same time, by asking us to turn to Acts chapter 8, verses 9-25. This was a story about a man named Simon, who wanted a position of authority in the church, but things went horribly wrong. I thought that was kind of a downer message at the time. Was hoping for you know, Elijah, or Paul, or the calling of the disciples… but why would he bring up the story of this fraud?
The main point of the charge was to keep the main thing the main thing. Just over 15 years later, I’m beginning to see the wisdom and purpose behind his words, and the point that he was making. We have such a strong tendency to lose focus, especially on critically important issues. How many times do we start a project off with good intentions only to never follow through in the end? As a case in point, just think of all the marriages and families that start off strong, only to fall apart through the years. The same thing can easily happen to our involvement in ministry, if we are not vigilant to keep our priorities in order.
I invite you to join with us this weekend in hearing the same words of warning from Acts 8:9-25 that I heard during my ordination. I believe these are words of life and love- that will encourage us to truly keep the main thing, the main thing in our lives. Our socially distanced service is Saturday evening at 5, and our Sunday morning service is at 10:15, where you can join us online if you can’t make it in person. We also have excellent Sunday School classes at 9 for all ages.
Have a great weekend and I look forward to pursuing Christ, Community, and the Great Commission Together with you soon!
-Pastor Nathan Rice