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2005-11-13_Induction Message

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To Him Be The Glory

Shaun LePage, November 13, 2005

I. Introduction

A.   Thank you for being here—whether you traveled 8 hours or 8 minutes—it means a lot to Beth and me that you’ve come to share this day with us.

B.   It seems to me that we can make a huge mistake on a day like this. But I’ll come back to that in a minute or two or 12.

C.   As I look around at all of you, I can’t help but be nostalgic. The people in this room represent a four-decade journey.

II.    Body

A.   I’ve been thinking about Timothy—the pastor trained by the apostle Paul and the recipient of the two New Testament letters named after him. Sandwiched in between the great imperatives and instruction of those letters are glimpses into the life of Timothy—biographical trivia that I relate to in ways.

1.     Timothy grew up in a family that gave him a good foundation. At least twice, Paul noted Timothy’s childhood training.

a)     I want to thank my parents for being here today.

b)    And, I want to thank you for the foundation I received in your home. I’m no longer Roman Catholic, of course, but as I think about my childhood, I recognize the fact that you gave me a good foundation. Many of my beliefs about God were established then.

c)     In fact, my mother prompted one of my first theological thoughts. I think she said something like, “God only knows what you were thinking!” My introduction to the omniscience of God.

2.     Timothy was probably saved as a young man. Paul refers to Timothy as his “true child in the faith,” so many scholars believe Paul led Timothy to Christ. We don’t know for sure, but we do know that at some point, Timothy trusted Christ—by faith—for salvation.

a)     In 2 Timothy 1:9, Paul wrote to Timothy about that salvation. Paul wrote about, “…God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was granted us in Christ Jesus…”

b)    I want to thank my brother-in-law, Larramie Crumpley, and my sister, Mary, for being here today. You represent a time in my life that I think about often. I was a high school basketball player and Larramie was a college basketball player who had the great privilege of dating my sister. When I got to college, I went through what I still consider the worst time of my life. I began to ask what life was all about and Larramie was there and challenged me to read the Bible. He told me about this God who saves people—not according to our works—but according to His grace. I opened my Bible and saw and believed.

c)     Then, Larramie and Mary gave me this Bible—a study Bible that I have now read through more times than I can remember. I consider it to be one of my most precious possessions. Every time I pick it up, I thank God for you both. I can’t tell you how excited I am that we’re now living closer than ever to each other—one of the fringe benefits of this job.

3.     At least three times, Paul mentions Timothy’s calling—how God used Paul and other men to let Timothy know that he was gifted for ministry.

a)     In my last year of college, I began to feel that God was calling me into full-time ministry. Larramie and Mary encouraged me and I began to meet other Christians who encouraged me about this. I met Beth in my last semester of college and we started dating a few months later. It was during that time—of course—that her family came into my life (all the ladies are here today—I’m obviously going to have to have a little talk with the boys). Except for a few minor incidents—which I don’t really want to talk about—it has been wonderful to get to know this family and become a part of them. They, too, encouraged me in various ways as I began to discover God’s calling in my life.

b)    Beth has been on this journey with me ever since—listening and watching and encouraging me. I can’t imagine life without her. I often think of Proverbs 18:22: “He who finds a wife finds a good thing And obtains favor from the Lord.” And Proverbs 31:10: “An excellent wife, who can find? For her worth is far above jewels.” The smartest thing I ever did was ask her to marry me. Why she said yes is still a bit of a mystery to me, but women have always confused me.

4.     Many passages in the letters to Timothy speak of his training. Paul was Timothy’s personal seminary. 2 Timothy 3:10 tells us Timothy followed Paul’s “…teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions and sufferings…”

a)     When I think of my training, I’ll never forget Beth’s enthusiasm and encouragement to me. This was a big step and she really missed her family, but she supported me—in many ways. She provided the moral support as well as the financial support. God provided an incredible situation that paid for our home, my tuition, my books and our insurance. But it was hard work for Beth—when paying for Dallas Seminary seemed impossible, God provided a way and Beth recognized that opportunity and met the challenge.

b)    God also brought Barkef and Susie Osigian into our lives during that time—just a few weeks after we arrived in Dallas. I’ve often said—and truly believe—that God moved me to Dallas so I could be mentored by Barkef Osigian. He let me go to Dallas Seminary as a bonus, but the real reason He led us there was to meet the Osigians. I remember one couple who joined the church a few years after us told us when they first called the church office—the Osigian’s house at the time—to get some information about the church, Susie answered. She told them about the church and then said, “There’s other churches out there, but ours is the best.” Fourteen years later, I can’t argue with that.

c)     I learned how to study the Bible at Dallas Seminary, but Barkef Osigian taught me how to be a pastor. Barkef is my Paul. Barkef gave me a beautiful clock when I left Texas. I lost it in the move, but I remember it was a beautiful clock. When I find it, I’m going to hang that clock on my office wall and whenever I go through tough times, I’ll ask myself, “What would Barkef do in this situation?” Thanks for being here today, Barkef. I can’t tell you how much it means to me. And I can’t find words that adequately describe how much you have marked my life—I tried, but I just couldn’t. You let me follow your “…teaching, conduct, purpose, faith, patience, love, perseverance, persecutions and sufferings…” You’ll always be my pastor, my mentor and my friend.

d)    There are several others here from Coppell Bible Fellowship in Coppell, Texas. Thank you all so much for being here. You also represent my training years. You were my guinea pigs as I stumbled and fumbled—trying to learn how to be a pastor. Some of my favorite youth ever made the trip to be here today. Being your youth pastor was the best job I ever had. Leaving Coppell Bible Fellowship—has been one of the hardest things Beth and I have ever had to do.

5.     If you search out all the references to Timothy in the New Testament, you find that most of the time he was with Paul or running errands for Paul. But at the beginning of 1 Timothy, we find that Timothy has become the pastor of the church at Ephesus. Was it his first pastorate? We don’t know.

a)     But, we do know Timothy was scared. 

(i)    He had to deal with all kinds of tough problems when he first arrived in Ephesus. This may have been the reason for his “stomach ailments” mentioned in 1 Timothy 5:23. Paul’s advice? Drink a little wine.

(ii) I’m so thankful I don’t have the kind of problems here that Timothy had to deal with, but I have to admit I’m a little “timid” as I step into the role of senior pastor. I’ll be picking up a bottle of wine on my way home today—that’s a joke. No wine—maybe Tums.

(iii)     And I’ll memorize 2 Timothy 1:7: “God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.”

b)    My fellow elders here at Community Bible Church have made this major transition so enjoyable. That’s a good group of men. I’m thrilled to be counted among them.

c)     The people of Community Bible Church have welcomed us with open arms. You are so gracious—knowing I’ve never been a senior pastor before—to let me come and learn (on the job) the things Barkef never got around to teaching me.

d)    The first imperative—the first command Paul gave Timothy in these two letters was stay put. He said in 1 Timothy 1:3,  “As I urged you upon my departure for Macedonia, remain on at Ephesus…” I think that’s significant.

(i)    In 2 Timothy 3:14, Paul told Timothy something similar, “You, however, continue in the things you have learned…” In other words, stay put and keep doing the things I taught you.

(ii) The average pastor lasts three and a half years before he moves on.

(iii)     I have no intention of being a statistic. I have every intention of remaining here—long term. Real pastoral ministry requires patience and a long-term commitment.

(iv)     So, Community Bible Church, you’d just better learn to like me because if the Lord wills I’m going to be around a while. Besides, moving is just too exhausting.

III.  Closing

A.   But as I said…it’s easy to make a mistake on a day like this—in a service like this. All this talk about the new pastor and having all my family and in-laws and friends and my mentor here could lead you to believe that this day is all about…me. If I—or someone else—have led you to believe that, then please let me finish by correcting that mistake.

B.   In Paul’s letters to Timothy he made it perfectly clear that the church at Ephesus was not Timothy’s church. It was God’s church.

1.     In 1 Timothy 3:15 he said, “I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.”

2.     We must be heavenly-minded—God-focused. Listen to 1 Timothy 6:17: “Instruct those who are rich in this present world not to be conceited or to fix their hope on the uncertainty of riches, but on God, who richly supplies us with all things to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17, NASB95)

3.     In fact, Paul opens and closes the Timothy letters by directing the glory to God.

a)     Beginning of 1 Timothy: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen. “ (1 Timothy 1:17, NASB95)

b)    End of 2 Timothy: “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. “ (2 Timothy 4:18, NASB95)

4.     So as I think over and reminisce over the past 40 years, my intent is that God would be glorified. The point of this service is to celebrate God’s faithfulness and give Him the credit for whatever is praiseworthy in my life. That you would see that God is great and gives His people the great privilege of participating in His eternally significant work. I want to praise God for all these wonderful people He brought into my life at one time or another. I want to give Him the glory for using them in my life to help me become the man I am. I want to build on the last 40 years and use the next 40 years for His praise and honor and glory.

5.     Please stand with me and let’s pray. I’ll finish by praying the prayer of 1 Timothy 6:15-16: “…He who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see. To Him be honor and eternal dominion! Amen. “ (1 Timothy 6:15-16, NASB95)

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