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Meet Our Spring Intern: Timothy Martin

Meet Our Spring Intern: Timothy Martin

We’re committed to investing in the gospel’s advance by investing in men who aspire to serve as vocational preachers and pastors. Remember Paul’s words to Timothy: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Tim. 2:2). That’s our biblical strategy for finding and appointing elders here at Heritage, and for propagating the gospel beyond our walls.

With this in mind, meet our spring intern, Timothy Martin. Timothy is involved in a good bit of reading and writing, he’s joining our elders meetings, and he and I are meeting weekly over twelve weeks to discuss what he’s learning. You can read about the shape of the internship here

Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Timothy would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead.

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Before we get to know you a bit, tell us what excited you the most about serving as an intern this spring?

I’ve read a handful of books on what are commonly called “means of grace.” The “means” on the lists that puzzled for the longest time was when authors would mention “fellowship.” I had thought: “I talk and think out loud with fellow believers all the time and I don’t necessarily feel like it has contributed all that much to my growth. Is socializing something God really uses to mature Christians into Christlikeness?” Then I began to get a taste for it at my local church. Likeminded conversations with a single focus: on our Savior and His Word. I knew this internship—which is mostly about watching and listening—would allow me to be the fly on the wall for countless hours of fellowship with good and godly men. Men I could model myself after in every aspect of life. There’s an adage that no one man can ever supplement the work of your father, but the fellowship of many men can. Speaking of the church in Corinth, Paul bemoaned that while there were many teachers there were few fathers. I’m not Paul (I’m Timothy!) but I feel like the same cannot be said of Heritage Bible Church. I have many fathers in the faith here and spending more time with them and “catching” a bit of the grace that God has bestowed upon them has been my favorite part of the internship.

Now, let’s go to the beginning, your new beginning. How did the Lord save you?

That’s an exciting one. Because I’ve learned to view the “ordinary” and “normal” and “boring” process of growing up in a Christian home to be an incredibly exciting blessing. I grew up as a missionary kid. My parents had just concluded 15+ years in the country of Haiti. I was born right before they moved to Ireland. They were directly involved in two different church planting works while I was there. I can never think of a time where I wasn’t aware that there was a God or knew the vocabulary of the gospel as a consequence of that. There are very few Bible stories that I can recall hearing “for the first time” because on any given day of the week my parents were 1) holding family devotions, 2) using the Scripture to share the gospel with a stranger or neighbor, or 3) preaching and teaching in church. What took me a while was to see how this vocabulary of the gospel applied personally to me. I distinctly remember a time when I took the Lord’s name in vain and felt the crushing weight of the law. I didn’t know how to resolve it. I had this sin and this condemnation. And this condemnation had my name on it. Now, at the exact same time, I wanted to be a policeman. A few weeks later when we were on furlough in Florida, a police chaplain was speaking at one of our supporting churches. You better believe I was all ears. He used the judicial system as a metaphor for our condemnation before God and explained the gospel of grace in a way that made perfect sense to me. The Spirit stirred. I was drawn and given new life. I responded in faith.

Now I’m not even sure if I was four at this time. I was definitely younger than five. And this caused a lot of adults to whom I jabbered my testimony to doubt the validity of my faith. So, doubt set in. The church culture that I grew up in put a lot of emphasis on the choice of words and how much you “truly” meant it. And I didn’t really understand if God really accepted me. It got to the point where the doubt and anxiety was all consuming. I prayed for God to save me hundreds of times a day. Assurance came and went. At twelve years old I heard Dr. Steve Pettit—at the time a traveling evangelist—at our local church. He commanded the attention of any young people in the audience who struggled with assurance. He explained how faith was not a work. The work was done on the cross. It was in fact the work of Jesus that accomplished and secured salvation for me and no effort of my own. My salvation had been desired by God in eternity past and purchased at the cross. Faith was the response; God did the work. From that moment forth I felt liberated with confidence before God.

You’re a college student. You’re a member. You’ve made home at Heritage. Encourage our church with the story of how you came here and got involved. We want to be a church that welcomes college students and gives them a taste of heaven on earth, just what church should be.

Coming to Greenville was very disorienting when it came to church life. I knew that I wanted to have full membership in a church here because I would be here nine months out of the year at the minimum. A bunch of cogs all started moving at once to get me to Heritage. I visited the college group a few times my freshman year but had intentions to join another church at the time and eventually stopped attending. That situation didn’t work out. I came to know the Fraley family and they invited me to visit with them. They extended sincere friendship and hospitality to me, and it stuck with me after I left for the summer to work in Philadelphia. I emailed Dan Cruver to inquire more about the church and started attending in the Fall of 2019. Nicole Steinmetz (a fellow college student at the time) handed me the membership packet and told me to look through it and see if I was on the same page with Heritage. If I was, I should consider joining. Jared Jenkins (now a member of Heritage and a previous intern) challenged me to do the same thing. I was thrilled reading the Heritage Confession of Faith to see clear gospel centrality and the presence of Scripture on every page. The Confession was a breath of fresh air. It became clear to me that Heritage lived up the “Bible” in Bible Church. They wanted to be ambassadors of Scripture and not fill a particular niche or artificially uphold a certain church culture. I quickly became friends with Craig Olsen, the Deangs, Caleb Greene, Steve Hall, and a number of others. Long story short: Word-centered doctrinal standards got me in the door and warm fellowship kept me in the church.

And there have been so many good things since. The rhythm of weekly expository preaching has enriched my life deeply. A church atmosphere that is friendly to both purity of doctrine and expression of emotion has also deepened my love for the church. My teenage cynicism died at Heritage and a love for the church was born there. That love has also matured into loving the church back as best as I can. I have since taught in an adult elective class, worked as a sponsor in SIGMA for the past two years, babysat for members in the church, been a part of the preaching cohort, and irregularly filled in for Dan Cruver for the college class. Most recently I am interning. I’d love to continue deepening this fellowship with the church for years to come.

Now, what is the most influential book on your life and what has been the most influential sermon on your life? Tell us a little about both.

I hate choosing favorites so I’m going to cheat on both of these.

I want to give passing reference to Desiring God and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper because those are the two books that kept me in the Word and on the right path during a time of deep depression and confusion in high school. But the most influential book by far has been Roger Scruton’s The Soul of the World. My deepest questions have always been existential and philosophical in nature. I listened to this book soon after its release. I bicycled miles and walked many more miles listening to the audiobook in early high school. Scruton argues very persuasively for how our sacred communion with God is the fountain from which all other things which are true, good, and beautiful derive their meaning. Nothing else can satisfy. Nothing else can create civilizations that last. Either God is at the center or both individual and communal life devolves into meaninglessness. It was this philosophical treatise that “primed the pump” and allowed me to enjoy the deep devotional writings of Piper.

My friend Armen Thomassian is the pastor of Faith Free Presbyterian Church here in Greenville. I try to drop by and visit him a few times a year when I don’t have any evening obligations at Heritage. A sermon he preached entitled “Christ is All-Together Lovely” lit a flame in my imagination that hasn’t died since. I already knew all the ways that Jesus spoke truth. And I already knew all the ways that Jesus was good. But it helped me to see Jesus as beautiful in Who He is and all He does. That sermon changed the way I think and changed the way I feel. A sermon that changed the way I acted was our very own Dan Cruver’s exposition of Hebrews 4:14-16. It helped me figure out a theology of confession and how to ‘deal with’ sins that were already forgiven on the cross but are committed after salvation. Take them to the throne of grace! We have confident access to Jesus.

You’re in the middle of reading twelve books over this internship. What’s been the most insightful book so far and why?

What is the Mission of the Church? by Greg Gilbert and Kevin DeYoung. Why? Because it’s a homerun on every front. Tremendously clear and thorough exegetical work that proves in scenario after scenario how the church doesn’t need a savior complex but instead should spend its resources proclaiming the message of the Savior.

You’ve been in our elders meetings for a few weeks now. What have you observed and learned so far?

Biggest lesson? What an incredible elder team we have. Each personality and each life experience is knit together through prayer and love for the Word. I’ve had the unique blessing of sitting in on three doctrinal examinations for elder candidates. It was really fun to watch the entire room come together to lovingly challenge the candidates and keep them on their toes while also demonstrating great care and love for them. I’ve also learned that having a system for due process and Robert’s Rules of Order are useful for keeping everyone on the same page.

The laughter is loud, serious matters are handled with absolute delicacy and care, and the prayers are sincere. These men really care for and love every member of the church.

What are your desires vocationally for the future and how can we pray for you?

My long term goal (for the time being) is inner-city/urban church planting and pastoral training. I would love to do this either state side or internationally. Mark Vowels sold me on the importance of self-reproducing churches years ago and it has never left me since. So, long-term, I want to put my hand to the plough at helping work to establish churches that plant churches. My dream would be to spend twelve to fifteen years of my life in one such church in America, twelve to fifteen in Europe, and twelve to fifteen in the Middle East. Pray that God would continue to create in me the character and integrity required to serve as an elder in his church. Pray that God would give me the boldness to live out what I learn and that none of the Word’s indicatives would grow dull to me and that none of the Word’s imperatives would go unobeyed. As a vocation of equal importance, I also would really love to be a husband and father one day! I would love have children of my own and also participate in adoption or foster-to-adopt programs. So, pray that God provides a wife for me and that he would kindly grant me that particular wish of mine.

Finally, got any favorite teams or hobbies or special skills we should know about?

I’ve been a loyal F.C. Milan fan for years and years and I am really sad that I miss most of their games at college. I have a forlorn love for Detroit sports.

I’m a soft-sciences/humanities guy through and through. I love linguistics, cartography (I like maps way too much), vexillology (I like flags way too much), literature, sociology, economics philosophy, poetry, and history. I’m the weird dude that finds reading Systematic Theology books and commentaries from cover-to-cover to be compelling reads. I hold a blackbelt in Tae Kwon Do and would like to get back into it after I graduate. Mountain biking and road biking were my two main outlets for exercise in high school.

Meet Our Fall Intern: Jared Jenkins

Meet Our Fall Intern: Jared Jenkins

This is such a cool photo of Jared, one of our college students whose pastoral internship is wrapping up. Jared’s internship began this past fall and is finishing up this week.

Jared has been reading and writing, he has joined our elders meetings, and he has met with me weekly over twelve weeks. Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Jared would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead. You can read about the shape of the internship here.

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Before we get to know you a bit, tell us what excited you the most about serving as an intern this fall?

As an intern, I get to witness a lot of the ins and outs of church life at Heritage. Honestly, my biggest excitement about this internship was the connection and mentorship that I would receive from the elders. Trent and I meet most weeks to discuss a book that centers on church life. My hope has been to grow in my understanding of church life, specifically at Heritage Bible Church, and then to take what I have learned and apply it to the way that I pastor in the future.

Now, let’s go to the beginning, your new beginning. How did the Lord save you?

My testimony is not unlike many people’s. I have grown up in a Christian family, both parents are believers. The Lord saved me when I was seven years old. At Northland Bible Camp, Evangelist Jeremy Frazor gave a very clear gospel message. I remember understanding my state in my sin and my need for someone to redeem me. Even at age seven, I had a clear understanding of what Christ did to save me from my sins, in dying on the cross and rising from the grave. Over the years, there have been moments in which I’ve doubted my salvation, many times due to ongoing sin in my life. But, ultimately, at the end of the day, I understand that my salvation and my assurance are not rooted in myself or in the countless times I have failed but in the reality that God has saved me and calls me his child.

You’re a college student. You’re a member. You’ve made home at Heritage. Encourage our church with the story of how you came here and got involved. We want to be a church that welcomes college students and gives them a taste of heaven on earth, just what church should be.

I became aware of Heritage Bible Church prior to attending college at Bob Jones University. I met Danny Brooks, the former teaching pastor of Heritage, out in Utah while my teen group was on a ministry trip. Danny had just moved out there. When I came to college, I knew that Danny pastored a church in Greenville. So, I visited. And immediately, I was hooked by the preaching, the fulness of the music in worship, and the charitability of people around me. My sophomore year, I joined Heritage as a member, because I knew the importance of being a part of a local church. Over the years, I have developed relationships with several people in the congregation. Pastor Trent and Dan Cruver have been an enormous help in shepherding my heart and giving me opportunities to use my gifts over the last couple of years.

Now, what is the most influential book on your life and what has been the most influential sermon on your life? Tell us a little about both.

The most influential book and most influential sermon on my life both go hand in hand as they are both by the same person—John Piper—and have the same title—“Don’t Waste Your Life.” In both, Piper talks about the way in which every Christian should live—sold out for Christ, his glory, and the proclamation of his gospel.

You’re in the middle of reading twelve books over this internship. What’s been the most insightful book so far and why?

To me, the most insightful book during my internship has been Worship Matters, by Bob Kauflin. He expounds how a worship leader and those participating in worship should think about it. Worship is standing in awe of, giving adoration to, and submitting to God. Therefore, as Kauflin writes, those leading and participating in worship should be known as “awe-filled” people.” The gathered worship should be conducted in such a way that fills the congregation with awe.

You’ve been in our elders meetings for a few months now. What have you observed and learned so far?

As I’ve sat in the elders meetings, I’ve witnessed the great care that goes into shepherding God’s sheep. Every meeting, the elders open their time with thirty minutes in prayer over the church and specific members, sometimes as a whole group and sometimes in small groups. No elder rules over another. Each has a voice and a part in the conversation. There is a very present respect and love that is felt as the gospel is evident within the room. The meetings get me excited about the joys, sorrows, and fulfillment of pastoring my own church in the future.

What are your desires vocationally for the future and how can we pray for you?

As I transition away from college, my hope for the next two years is to move out to Salt Lake City, Utah to partner with Gospel Grace Church in a full-time residency. Simultaneously, I hope to finish my Master of Divinity with Bob Jones remotely. At the end of the residency, I could move into elder candidacy or into church planting in Utah. Of course, with such a transition (I’m from Michigan), there’s a lot of wisdom needed in how I am going to move out there. Could you pray for me in that respect?

Finally, got any favorite teams or hobbies or special skills we should know about?

I love to read (especially when it’s what I want). Every now and then, I’ll sit down and write a piece for my blog. Over the last couple of months, because of my friend, Will Galkin, I’ve developed a real love for Liverpool Football Club. Right now, they are the second team in Premier League and are on the way to face off against Chelsea in Wembley Stadium for Carabao Cup Championship.

Meet Our Summer Intern: Jarod Hill

Meet Our Summer Intern: Jarod Hill

Paul’s words to Timothy are the Holy Spirit’s words to our elders: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Tim. 2:2). That’s our biblical strategy for finding and appointing elders here at Heritage, and for propagating the gospel beyond our walls.

With this in mind, meet Jarod Hill, whose summer internship is just now wrapping up. Jarod has been busy in a few ways that he will explain below. 

Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Jarod would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead.

Before we get to know you a bit, tell us what excited you the most about serving as an intern this summer?

What excited me most about the internship were the opportunities to learn and grow. Throughout the internship, I read, wrote on, and discussed twelve books. These books covered an array of important topics to help me grow in seeing how a theology of the church shapes our practice of church. Every week I met with Trent to discuss my reading and he helped me think these things through and clear up any questions. Those meetings with Trent were by far my favorite part of each week.

Also, although I dreaded it to an extent, I very much looked forward to preaching and developing those skills as well. Preaching to the Heritage family at a recent Family Meeting was an honor.

Now, let’s go to the beginning, your new beginning. How did the Lord save you?

Unlike many people, I do not recall a specific day on which was saved. The first eighteen years of my life, I grew up in a small Reformed Baptist church that tended to overemphasize the doctrines of grace and specifically the doctrine of election (a wholly biblical truth) and underemphasize man’s responsibility in salvation (an equally biblical truth). Because of this imbalance, I spent my life waiting for God to show me that He chose me before the foundation of the world to be His son, because that’s what it ultimately came down to. He either chose me or He didn’t.

After those eighteen years, my family decided to leave that church and join a church closer to where we lived. It was at this new church we were attending, where one of the pastors took me out for dinner a couple times and discussed theology and what I believed. Over those dinner meetings, my pastor helped me to realize that, “if (I) confess with (my) mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in (my) heart that God raised him from the dead, (I) will be saved (Romans 10:9),” and was therefore, in the elect and chosen before the foundation of the world for salvation. I realized that verse was true to me and the implications that followed. Several weeks later, I was baptized.

You’ve been at Heritage for several years now. Why did you decide to stay and how have you been shaped during these years?

It was a combination of a few things: solid theology, a loving church community, and the right connections. Before even visiting Heritage, I did a lot of research on churches in the Greenville area. First and foremost, I was looking for a church that was theologically conservative and orthodox and also believed and proclaimed the doctrines of grace. Secondly, I wanted to be a part of a church family that genuinely loved and cared for one another and heavily emphasized discipleship of one another. Lastly, I was hoping to find a church that had some Southern Baptist Theological Seminary connections (because that’s where I plan to get my seminary degree from) and Bob Jones connections (because that’s where I was getting my undergraduate degree from). Heritage Bible Church was the only church that I could find that went above and beyond in checking all of those boxes. I’m super thankful to be a part of this family and excited to officially join Heritage in the coming months, Lord-willing.

Now, the most influential book on your life and what has been the most influential sermon on your life? Tell us a little about both.

Without being cliché and saying “the Bible” is the most influential book on my life, I can easily say John Piper’s books, Desiring God, and, When I Don’t Desire God, are tied for the most influential books on my life. Desiring God is John Piper defending from Scripture the topic he calls, “Christian Hedonism.” In his book, Piper summarizes Christian Hedonism by saying, “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” Piper puts it another way in his book by switching up the words to the first answer of the Westminster Shorter Catechism. Instead of the answer being, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever,” Piper changes it to, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God by enjoying Him forever.” What a blessing it is to be able to fulfill man’s entire purpose and receive the only fully satisfying joy we have available to us at the same time. Truly desiring God will prove difficult for any of us because we remain sinners. That’s why Piper wrote, When I Don’t Desire God, to give practical actions we can take found in Scripture to help strengthen our desire for Him.

When it comes to most influential sermons, the most influential sermon on my life is by Paul Washer and is titled, “Paul Washer- Shocking Message” on YouTube. I think I first heard this message my first year at Bob Jones and was actively going against God in several areas of my life. God used it to break and convict me and you can bet on God doing that to you almost every time you listen to it.

You’re near the end of reading a hand full books over this internship. What’s been the most insightful book so far and why?

Oddly enough, the most insightful book I read was one of the last in my internship, A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles, by Thomas Sowell, who is not even a Christian. This is the one book Trent has us read that isn’t about the church, but about the world we find ourselves in today as the church. In his book, Sowell theorizes (and I believe expresses correctly) why the world tends to sort itself out into two broad coalitions politically and economically. He writes not to prescribe a political ideology but to describe how it is that political visions tend to sort themselves out as they do. He explains this phenomenon as a conflict of visions of human nature, specifically a conflict between the “constrained vision” and the “unconstrained vision.” The constrained vision views mankind as fundamentally flawed and constrained by that basic reality. The unconstrained vision sees mankind as a people whose potentialities are not constrained by what we would call sin. Thus, we have on the one hand a vision of humanity that pursues tradeoffs and another that insists on perfect solutions, one that is averse to centralization in government because it does not trust humans with power, and another that seeks utopia. This book really helped me to better understand where certain views most likely come from and the importance knowing what a person’s fundamental beliefs about the world is.

You’ve been in our elders meetings for a few months now. What have you observed and learned so far?

Above all else, these elder meetings helped me to understand the importance of a plurality of elders. Every elder meeting, the elders and anyone else in the room discuss with one another a typically highly-debated topic from Scripture that needs clarification for the good of the church. The first topic they were going through when I began attending was divorce and remarriage. A second topic, which they are currently discussing, is church discipline. Because of the plurality of elders, input from each elder is used to better define terms and discern the Scripture’s teaching. All of this strengthens our church in ways that are hard to see except over time.

I also want to mention that the church elders of Heritage love the members so much. During the elder meetings, they pray for specific people of different elder communities and shepherding groups and each meeting is focused on loving you all better by leading the church in the most God-glorifying way imperfect man can. Be in prayer for them, they need your prayers and support!

What are your desires vocationally for the future and how can we pray for you?

Although I’m currently unsure what this will eventually look like, I hope to be actively involved in ministry of some type. I don’t know whether that will be on the mission field, pastoral, or in the workforce while being heavily involved in a church. Lord-willing, my plans in the near future are to become and eventually work as a certified financial planner (CFP) while pursuing a master’s degree in biblical counseling from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. In the future, I desire to be a beacon of hope in the lives of my future clients, fellow church members, family, and friends by giving them practical advice with the knowledge and experience I hope and plan to attain.

Please pray that God continues to guide me and that He would change my desires to match His. Also, please pray that I can be a blessing and encouragement to people at work, my friends, and my family. Lastly, I would appreciate prayer asking God to change and develop my heart to be a more selfless, caring heart than what I have currently. Too much of what I do and say has selfish motives behind it, even if what I do and say looks good from the outside. Thank you for your prayers!

Finally, got any favorite teams or hobbies or special skills we should know about?

I’m a die-hard Indianapolis Colts fan. If I’m able to, I watch every Colts game and listen to daily Colts podcasts to get to know the players and coach better, which adds to the enjoyment of watching the games. I’m also a huge Marvel fan. My prized possession is a 75th Anniversary Captain America shield signed by Stan Lee, the co-creator of Marvel Comics. Also, although I rarely get to play now, I have played trumpet pretty consistently for about 12-13 years now in everything ranging from marching band to symphony orchestra. Performing music on trumpet is one of my favorite things to do.

Meet our Spring Intern: Phil Shiver

Meet our Spring Intern: Phil Shiver

We’re committed to investing in the gospel’s advance by investing in men who aspire to serve as vocational preachers and pastors. Remember Paul’s words to Timothy: “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Tim. 2:2). That’s our biblical strategy for finding and appointing elders here at Heritage, and for propagating the gospel beyond our walls.

With this in mind, meet Phil Shiver, who served with us as an intern this past spring. Phil was involved in a good bit of reading and writing, he joined our elders meetings, and he and I met weekly over twelve weeks. 

Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Phil would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead.

Before we get to know you a bit, tell us what excited you the most about serving as an intern this spring? At the end I’ll ask you some questions for reflection on how it went.

I’m super excited to get to know more about church, in general, and how church is done. I look forward to building out answers to questions such as: Why do we have church? What’s the mission of the church? How do we accomplish that mission? But even more, I’m excited to get to know our church, and the why’s, what’s, and how’s of the things we do, here, at Heritage. I’m extremely grateful to be learning and serving here at a church that is so near and dear to my heart. As you invest in me and I in you I trust that the Lord will be honored and His people will be blessed.

Now, let’s go to the beginning, your new beginning. How did the Lord save you?

I came to understand my sinful state and need for Jesus Christ when I was seven years old at an AWANA service at my church. I had spoken frequently with my parents about salvation in the the months preceding, and on one night in the year 2000, I grabbed my teacher and asked him to lead me to Christ. He went through the gospel again and I prayed for Christ to save me from my sins. I was reborn. Since then, there have been times of great growth as well as times of trial, but my faith has grown and filled out and I have fallen more in love with Jesus along the way.

You’re not from Greenville originally. What places have you lived and how did you get to Greenville?

I am a southern transplant, originally from Buffalo, NY — the city of good neighbors, home of the chicken wing, beef on weck, the Buffalo Bills, copious amounts of snow, and Travel + Leisure Magazine’s “Favorite City” of 2016. Seriously, Buffalo is amazing, I loved growing up there. But I don’t intend to go back. Too cold. I came to Greenville in 2012 after transferring to Bob Jones University for my sophomore year of college. Besides those places, I have lived for a few months in Rome, Italy, and Salt Lake City, Utah as a result of internships.

You’ve been at Heritage for four years now. What has God done in you during that time?

One thing that has grown immensely during my time at HBC is a love for the local church. In high school and college, I benefited greatly from parachurch ministries, but struggled to maintain consistency in my spiritual life. Since becoming a member at HBC, I have experienced the riches of being a part of a body, contributing to and gleaning from the nourishment of the other members as we walk in the Spirit day-by-day together.

You desire to serve vocationally as a pastor. How did God grow that desire in you?

I often describe my desire to serve vocationally as a pastor as a stone in my shoe. It’s something that I sense the Lord placed in my heart (or my shoe in the case of the analogy) that I couldn’t just forget and move on. God kept reminding me about it. I could sense the Lord growing the desire in me ever since serving as a summer counselor at Northland Camp after my sophomore year of college. But, I kept ignoring it, electing to pursue a degree in history and job opportunities in politics, two other interests of mine. Eventually, after working in political media for a few years, I grew a bit restless and decided I wanted to pursue a seminary degree. At that time, I simply wanted to grow in my knowledge of God. But in due course, the Lord made it clearer to me that he may have other plans.

You recently finished a degree. Tell us a bit about the degree and your favorite class.

Yes, I completed my Master of Arts in Theology degree from Biola University last May. It was a bit longer than your traditional MA at 49 credits, but still much shorter than most Masters of Divinity degrees, which are usually north of 80 credits. The work was hard, especially since I completed much of it while having a full-time job. But, I truly enjoyed the subject matter. My favorite class was probably Contemporary Theology with Dr. Rob Price. The name is a bit misleading, because the course was not about the contemporary era of theology, akin to “Theology from the 1900s—the present,” but rather it was a seminar class on contemporary issues facing the church, such as identity, race, gender, etc. The class went like so: every couple of weeks, we would take an issue, do a bunch of reading on it from several different perspectives, and then write research papers. The professor did an excellent job of forcing us to think critically about the issues and of compelling us to use scripture and historical church doctrine to present a theological argument.

Besides the Bible, what’s the book that has had the most influence on your life and why?

This has to be the toughest question, there are so many. So, I’m going to pick a weird one just for fun: Notes From A Tilt-A-Whirl: Wide-Eyed Wonder in God’s Spoken World, by N.D. Wilson. This book is a dizzying rollercoaster-like sensory experience unlike any other book I’ve read. Wilson is a gifted writer. He brings theology, philosophy, poetry, and reality all together, forcing you to stop seeing life through tired, dull eyes. He simply doesn’t let you box God in or sum God up—instead you end up praising God for all that He is and all that he has given us in His “spoken world.” It’s not necessarily a book I’d read for theological instruction, but rather one I’d read in order to stir up excitement about God and life.

Now, the most influential sermon on your life and why?

Any sermon by Trent Hunter (kidding). I would have to say, “Don’t Waste Your Life” by Will Galkin out of the well-known text in Ecclesiastes 12 thats starts with: “Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, ‘I have no pleasure in them.’” He preached it during staff training at Northland Camp in 2013. That summer was one of the most formative seasons of my life and that sermon was one of the most formative moments of the summer. The sermon was a system reset for me. Will Galkin had a way of relating the text in a piercingly fresh way, and the Holy Spirit spoke to my heart about how utterly short and meaningless life is without knowing and serving God. Will’s reverberating shriek, “Don’t waste your life!” has stuck with me until today—sometimes I hear it in my sleep and wake up in cold sweats. Kidding, but the sermon really is an anchor and a challenge for me.

How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?

I’m pretty typical. I like doing whatever my friends are doing. I prefer being outside. I absolutely love hiking, camping, hammocking, exploring new places, playing pretty much any sport (though basketball, football, and golf are my favorites), or any yard activity. I also have a Mavic Air drone. I’m no Pete Hansen, but I dabble.

If indoors, I love card games (like Rummy) or board games (especially Risk) or trivia games (if you’ve never played BezzerWizzer, you should). I also enjoy attempting to play my guitar every now and then. Oh, and I’m a big fan of coffee, too, and coffee shops. I often run into Trent at some of the places around town.

Any odd talents that we should know about up front?

None that I’ve discovered yet. If pressed for one, I’d say I can do a strange and very loud “call,” not really sure how to describe it. That normally only comes out in a camp setting, though, or when I’m hyped up around the teen (L3inc) group at church.

Okay, your favorite animal and why?

This has changed over the years. I used to say the cheetah. Why? Because it’s super fast, and that’s pretty much all there was to it. Now, I’m leaning towards the wolf. I like how it’s mysterious and wild, yet noble, and a team player.

You read twelve books over this internship. Good job. Which will prove the most useful to you as a pastor and why?

They were all so helpful, so it’s hard to pick. But I think Rinne’s little book, Church Elders, was my favorite. It was packed with an abundance of useful information and spiritual instruction. As someone who might one day be a pastor, I found this book to be the perfect introductory work into the biblical role of eldership. It not only provided a thorough job description of eldership, but also biblically explained how eldership is done. I will always remember Rinne’s admonition to “smell like the sheep” as Jesus did, leading as a servant and caring for the flock.

What are two or three lessons you learned about eldering during your internship?

First, this internship has impressed upon me the immense importance of having a tight ecclesiology, or theology of the church. Starting with membership, baptism, and the Lord’s Supper, then moving to preaching, teaching, and missions, then budgeting, care for the elderly, and more. All of these topics are not disparate parts in the life of the church, but are tightly-bound elements of following Christ within a community of believers. Churches can worship well when they are clear on all that scripture says pertaining to ecclesiology. I have become convinced of this through the internship — through both the assigned books and conversations with Trent.

Secondly, in a more intimate sense, I have learned about the care that Heritage’s elders, staff workers, and members provide the church, and have been blessed in witnessing their godly work. Through sitting in on elders meetings and discussing sermon prep with Trent, to watching worship practices and observing the tech team set up for services — both onsite and online — to participating in prayer meetings with the church-at-large, I have witnessed the work that goes into doing church. But more so, I have witnessed the joy with which the whole Heritage body carries out that work, and have been blessed by it.

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 2)

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 2)

 

A few weeks back we introduced you to Chris Gerber in Part 1 of this two-part post. Chris has worked through about five books, written as many short book reviews, and has led out for Evening Prayer once. Greet him when you see him around the church.

Let’s pick up where we left off. 

 

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What’s your favorite book of the Bible and why?

I don’t know that I can say I have a favorite book. I have always enjoyed the historical books of the Old Testament. I like history and the fact that in God’s revelation we have the lives and history of the people of God before us recorded in riveting stories; that is something I have always enjoyed. It is a reminder that we are part of a grand story ourselves as followers of God.

What book has had the most impact on your life, besides the Bible?

This is a hard one to answer. I have read some wonderful books in the past decade. I think The Story of Christianity, by Justo Gonzalez had a profound impact on my thinking. Church history gave me a broader perspective on what God has done in the life of the church. As Gonzalez writes, “without understanding that past we are unable to understand ourselves.” This book helped me evaluate many things about the church by understanding its history and helped me evaluate my own preconceptions about what the church is and should be.

Tell us about the most influential sermon you’ve heard?

This is a hard one as well. It wasn’t so much a sermon as it was a talk to the ministerial class at Bob Jones University by missionary J.D. Crowley. I think it was a talk that grabbed my attention as it showed me how many ministerial students will disqualify themselves for the ministry. I think it gave me a right fear of God and that talk has continued to remind of the need for perseverance in ministry and to rely on the grace of God for it all.

How do you like to spend your down time? Any hobbies?

My down time these days is mostly spent with my wife and daughter. Although, I’ve always enjoyed visiting historical places. Those are mostly of Civil War battlefields as that was a large interest of mine for most of my life so far.

Okay, now a few left fielders: What is the dumbest thing you did as a kid?

The one thing that always comes to mind is the time when I was probably around 12 years old. My sister and I were looking for something to do in the house and I asked if she would let me on her shoulders. I hadn’t quite hit my growth spurt, so I was smaller than her at the time. She obliged and I got on her shoulders by stepping on a bench seat in front of large, vertical window panes near the entrance to the house. Needless to say she couldn’t support me well and I landed read end first into the window! It didn’t completely break but there was a nice posterior shaped imprint in the fractured glass. We decided to hide from my parents as they were not home at the time. We thought we would get the spanking of a lifetime. Fortunately for us, they couldn’t help but laugh at the situation.

Any odd talents that we should know about up front?

I think it is often said about me that I have an uncanny ability to remember the most useless information.

What’s your favorite animal, and why?

It’s gotta be a pig. Those barbecue ribs from Texas Roadhouse are awesome!

How can we pray for you this summer?

Pray that I grow in my knowledge of God. Pray that I learn much about what it is to serve the church. Pray that I become a better leader, husband and father for my family.

 

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 1)

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 1)

Meet Our Summer Intern: Chris Gerber (Part 1)

 

Where do the church’s teachers and preachers come from? They come from Paul’s words to Timothy, “what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also” (2Tim. 2:2). In that simple command, Paul summed up the strategy for the propagation of the gospel from Ephesus to Greenville.

With this in mind, meet Chris Gerber, our summer intern. This isn’t a paid or terribly high-profile internship. But it is a deep internship. Chris will be learning from books, and teams, and leading in a few key ways in the Word and in prayer. You can read about the shape of the internship here.

Our purpose in this internship is to see churches led by pastors who faithfully connect the Bible’s theology of the church to the church’s worship, life, and mission. In other words, to see churches flourish in the gospel and gospel work. Pray that Chris would be that kind of shepherd for a church in the years ahead.

You need to get to know Chris, so here’s Part 1 of a two-part interview.

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You’re not from Greenville originally. What places have you lived and how did you get to Greenville?

I’m from Lancaster, PA. I was born in Hershey but spent most of my life in Lancaster. I went to Greenville for college at Bob Jones University in 2004 and have been here ever since.

You’ve been at Heritage for how many years now? Why did you stay at Heritage after visiting, and what has God done in you during that time?

I believe at the end of this summer we will have been at Heritage for 8 years. I remember this well because two weeks at the most into visiting, our apartment complex caught fire and we needed to move out immediately. We were able to save most of our belongings because we only had smoke and water damage. Thankfully the fire did not reach our unit. Our new friends at Heritage stepped up to help us. We had folks give us money that we had never met before. We had people help us move. Needless to say we were impacted by the love we felt from Heritage. God’s love for us was on full display. We kept coming back because we knew that much was made of Jesus at this place. I think a lot of what God has done for me has revolved around growing through the faithful preaching and then applying that knowledge in Shepherding Groups.

Let’s back up and learn about your conversion. How did God save you?

I am not actually sure when I was converted. It could have been as a child when I prayed for forgiveness from my sins. However, I believe most likely I was saved as a teenager. At a prophecy conference my church was having, I remember being struck by the fact that I did not know if I was ready to meet God. Previous to the conference, I struggled with assurance of my salvation. It seems that I did not fully know the grace of God. I was trying to add my own works, to get myself worthy enough to be saved by God. That night I sought counsel from my pastor. He showed me that I could add nothing to what had been done for me. There I bowed in submission to the Lordship of Jesus and accepted his grace by faith.

You desire to serve vocationally as a pastor. How did God grow that desire in you?

The pastor that led me to the Lord took an interest in me and we began to meet together. I was discipled by him and he began to show me how to study the Bible. It was here that an interest in the pastoral ministry began to grow in me.

You’re pursuing a degree. What degree and why?

I am about to finish a Master of Divinity. It seemed like a good degree to achieve for pastoral ministry. While I have much still to learn, I believe this has been a good foundation for learning how to study the Bible and rightly handle the Word of God.

Tell us about Jen! How does she complement and strengthen you as a husband?

Jen is the best! We just celebrated our 10th anniversary this week. Everywhere I am weak she is so helpful in shoring up that weakness. She has been most helpful in the raising of our daughter Julia. I remember having extreme anxiety about the future with a new baby, and Jen did a stellar job keeping life going for us when I was struggling emotionally. She is super talented. I love seeing her lead us in congregational singing through her skill with the violin on Sunday mornings.

So, you’re an intern for the Summer. What does that even mean?

I will be learning and leading: I’ll be learning by reading and writing on about a dozen books, chosen for how they connect our theology to ministry practice. These books will also help me understand some of the thinking behind our own ministry here at Heritage. I will also be learning about pastoral ministry by observing staff meetings, elder meetings, and shadowing on Sunday morning. In terms of leading, I will be leading through various public opportunities such as evening prayer and electives during the summer.