My pastor, John MacArthur, climbs the four steps to his pulpit, gives a short greeting, and then says something like “Everyone please open your bibles to where we left off last week.” I have come to expect this over the last forty years. Verse by verse, our faithful pastor, teaches the word of God to his flock. He studies hard through the original languages to understand the meaning, because the meaning IS the word of God. He “guards what has been entrusted” to him. He is ready to “preach the word’…ready in season and out of season; (to) reprove, rebuke, and exhort with great patience and instruction.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
The Bible says “The elders who rule well are to be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who work hard at preaching and teaching.” (1 Timothy 5:17) With a grateful heart to the Lord, this is my short tribute to my pastor.
49 years ago, at Hume Lake, near Sequoia NP, I was a fun-loving teenager at summer camp. That week I heard messages from Ephesians 6 about spiritual armor and prayer. The details are fuzzy, but I distinctly remember that my walk with Christ took a more serious turn as a result of the Holy Spirit’s work of conviction in my heart. The young camp preacher was John MacArthur. At the time I didn’t know how significantly the Lord would use him in the future life of my family.
10 years later, as a young couple, Gary and I we were listening to Pastor MacArthur’s sermon cassettes from the Tape Lending Library at Grace Community Church. Gary would listen to them in his work truck, and I’d listen at home. We had never been exposed to expository teaching from the pulpit before. We couldn’t get enough. The Word of God was changing us.
We became members of Grace Community Church in 1984. Pastor John was carefully preaching through the Bible one verse at a time. He has been doing so ever since.
Dear Pastor John
Our family life has been centered around the church, and your ministry and teaching for a long time. Having the Word of God taught to us so faithfully, for all these years, has guided, encouraged and challenged us to live for Christ and now extends to our grandchildren. Thank you for teaching truth. Through your preaching and shepherding, the Holy Spirit continues to teach us how to navigate the ups and downs of our fallen world.
Following the example of Jesus, and the Apostle Paul, you have poured your life into others in order to raise up shepherds. Our pastors and elders follow in your footsteps. Their counsel to us over the years has been invaluable. One of my sons-in-law is a graduate of The Master’s Seminary and has served as a pastor for 14 years in Jupiter, Florida. Thank you for the “Timothys” you have given us.
When trials hit our family, especially with my cancer in 2002 and 2018, and Gary’s dementia in 2007, our church functioned as the hands and feet of our Lord in His care for us. The “body of Christ” sprang into action as a result of your training and teaching of God’s holy Word. Thank you for teaching us to “love one another.”
Under your leadership, Grace Church provides our wonderful Alzheimer’s Dementia Ministry to those of us who are caring for loved ones. What would we have done without this group who were were like a “band of brothers,” in our journey? Even when Gary couldn’t attend church any more, we were blessed to live-stream your sermons, until he could no longer sit up or stay awake. Thank you (and Patricia) for shepherding us through my husband’s illness and last days, and preaching at Gary’s Memorial Service, four years ago.
I know I speak for my entire family when I say “we love you” to both you and Patricia, for your faithfulness and unselfish service to our Savior.
for being our pastor for the last 50 years in the same pulpit, methodically teaching through the Word of God,
one verse at a time.
In February we celebrated John MacArthur’s 50th year at Grace Community Church.
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