The Times They Are a Changin’

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Founder & Teacher,

Sounds sort of sixties doesn’t it? I can’t seem to shake it. What I mean is that changes are always happening around Bethlehem.

Old Days Worship Planning

The first year I was at Bethlehem (July 1980 - August 1981) I designed all the worship services and wrote the bulletin. Tom Pals led the choir, but I chose all the elements of the service. Times have changed. Now I bask (along with you) in the beauty and truth and depth of services designed entirely by God’s man, Dean Palermo. I give Dean sermon texts and titles; and everything else comes from his prayer and pondering and planning. He is a great gift to this church and to me personally. What a season of celebration we have known in these past days! Praise God for Dean Palermo.

Candidate for Associate for Young Adults

Another change is perhaps in the offing. Greg Dirnberger, pastor of Calvary Church of the Pacific in Aiea, Hawaii is coming to be a candidate for our new position of Associate Pastor for Young Adults. He and his wife Laurie will be here the week of April 27 - May 3. Greg will lead a worship and teaching and question time Thursday, April 30 at 7:30 P.M. He will preach Sunday, May 3 in the morning and give his testimony that evening followed by a “popcorn with the pastoral candidate.” There will be other meetings with staff and elders and prayer teams and young adult leaders.

Whether Greg should come is not decided. He needs to see us and know us. We think we know him well, and we believe he is the man for the job. In his resumé he described his theological position like this: “Reformed, Non-cessationist, Christian Hedonist!” If you don’t know what that means, start there with your questions when he comes.

We desire the best for the kingdom of Christ, not just for Bethlehem. Greg’s gifts could be used many places. Is Bethlehem God’s place for him? Would you pray for the church and for Greg and Laurie that God might make his kingdom purposes clear to us all?

Piper Requests Writing Assignment

Finally, a brief change in the wind. The elders have generously granted me a four week writing assignment (if I say “leave” or “sabbatical” you will think I am resting, but as the kids say: “Not!”). My goal is to write a book on “The Supremacy of God in World Missions.” This book has been brewing for years. I want it off my back. Baker Book House is open to publishing it.

I will be holed up alone in a student apartment on the campus of Trinity Seminary from May 6 through June 4. This is what I did in May two years ago and it was tremendously productive. I will be replaced in the pulpit for four weeks by Tom Steller, David Livingston, Tom Schreiner and Ralph Hammond (Multi-Cultural Director at Bethel Seminary). God will get along just fine without me. As Paul says, “The word of God is not bound!” (2 Timothy 2:9)

My goal is to finish the book in these concentrated days of writing and praying. I need you to be a team with me in prayer that God will make the book useful in finishing the Great Commission. More on that in a week or so.

Serving with scars of the class of ‘68,

Pastor John