Tell us a little about yourself (where you live, what you do for a living, what you like to do for fun).
I live in the suburbs of Philadelphia with my wife of 34 years, Tammy, and am the senior pastor of Church of the Open Door, in Fort Washington. The church has a Christian school educating children from preschool to eighth grade, teaching them a range of academics from the biblical worldview.
One of my favorite activities is spending Friday as my date-day with Tammy. When I can persuade her, we enjoy coffee, reading, and talking at Barnes and Noble or Starbucks. Also for fun I enjoy reading theology books, exercising (sometimes simultaneously), and watching a good, clean movie.
When did you feel called to become a pastor?
I was in ninth grade when I sensed the clear call of God to full-time ministry. At that time, I began pursuing what is necessary toward preparation and education. I went to Pensacola Christian College and finished my Bachelor of Arts in Bible with a Greek minor. I fell in love with Greek and New Testament studies. I then attended Calvary Seminary in Lansdale, PA and received my Master of Divinity degree. Once I graduated, I struggled with which ministry to pursue. I launched forward with what I thought made the most sense—youth pastor. I was wrong about that. I enjoyed teaching the youth so much more than preparing exciting activities. The senior pastor of the church where I served wisely directed me toward adult ministry. I took his advice and have been a pastor ever since.
What is your favorite area of study?
My favorite area recently has been studying and teaching theology. I teach courses at church and train our people in Systematic Theology. I also love spending time translating New Testament Greek and doing book studies in preparation for Sunday morning preaching and the small groups that I lead.
What's one of your favorite verses?
Haggai 1:13 and 2:4, because the only way any leader can make a difference is based on the reality of, "Work, for I am with you, declares the Lord. . . ."
What is something the Lord has been teaching you lately?
How to deal with and overcome my greatest fear—fear of failure. The Psalmist expressed what I am learning by stating, "If it had not been the Lord who was on our side . . . then the flood would have swept us away. . . ." (Ps. 124:1, 4). Too much of what I seek to accomplish in ministry is done with physical, emotional, and stressful effort. The Lord is teaching me the necessity of hard work balanced with strong trust in the Lord to accomplish the intended goal.
What will you be speaking on at the Deeply Rooted Retreat?
I want to help believers recognize the fallacy of shallow thinking in regard to the deep things of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10 identifies the work of the Holy Spirit as the resource to search the deep things of God. Every believer has the Holy Spirit dwelling in him or her, and every believer threatens to quench the work of the Holy Spirit when they become satisfied with theology “lite” rather than exploring the depths of all that God has created and revealed about himself. Theology is what everyone practices, even the atheist, and is not just for the seminarian. What I believe about the sufficiency or the lack of sufficiency of Jesus Christ is expressing my theology. Another word for doctrine is the word "teaching" and I express what I believe and teach by the way I live my life. This is a part of every believer’s life.
Equal to that involves my prayer life. Engaging in prayer reflects my dependence on God, and my communing with God reflects what I believe and understand about God. So both rise and fall together: theology and prayer.
You write the "Theology 101" series for our publication. What is your hope for women who take the time to study doctrine?
To become aware of how easy it can be to understand theology and not cower from it as something unknown or ignore it as something unimportant.
What is your hope for Christian women today?
Too often women have been stereotyped as thinking only with their emotions and experiences. Lately, however, there are many women teachers of the Scriptures who are turning that stereotype on its head. Women must learn to determine their feelings not by circumstances but by what the Scriptures have declared about them. They are identified in Christ and have been given every resource from God to live righteously, holy, with joy, and with absolute assurance that they are God's special creation.
I want moms of young children to recognize their worth is not diminished but rather enhanced as they pour into their children. I want single women to recognize their worth is not diminished in their singleness but enhanced as they are free to invest their lives into others who have no sense of hope because they have no Savior, Jesus Christ. All of this becomes more of a reality as they increasingly come to know and understand who God is and the depth of trusting in him in all areas of their lives.
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