pecaspers: a Blog in transition

January 21, 2013

MLK and Inauguration Day 2013

If you don’t live under a rock, then you know that today was both the presidential inauguration and the public celebration of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. Much was made during the ceremonies in Washington D.C. of the way Dr. King’s “Dream” was on display as fulfilled in the re-inauguration of the United States of America’s first Black president. But that’s kind of ridiculous if you think about it.

To quote King, “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.” Like it or not, there were plenty of people who voted for and against Barack Obama just because he is Black. Interestingly enough, he’s actually bi-racial. King’s dream wasn’t that Black people would overtake White people in positions of power and influence. The dream is that people’s moral character will be seen for what it is without reference at all to the color of their skin. The dream is not reached until we stop talking about the first Black, Latino, Asian, or whatever whoever. When a person’s race doesn’t enter into the equation of how good a man or woman someone is, then we’ll be on the way. (Side note: My point here isn’t to argue for or against President Obama’s character.)

I’ll happily admit we’ve made a lot of progress. And of course, first [insert race/gender] [insert significant achievement]s occur as a sign of that progress. My own denomination elected Fred Luter as President of the Southern Baptist Convention this year; he’s the first Black President of the SBC. However, we have not arrived in a post-racial America until the hype is all and only about a person and not his or her skin. We have not arrived in a post-racial America until people stop throwing “he’s Black” into conversations when it isn’t actually important to the story being told–you know what I’m talking about. We have not arrived in a post-racial America until there’s a recognition of the fact that Black folks and White folks and Asian folks and every other kind of folks do in fact have some real cultural differences but that we’re all, more importantly, just folks. Folks created in the image of God. Folks diversified into many nations, tribes, and tongues by God and for His glory. Folks who all need salvation from their sin by Jesus the Son of the one true and living God. Folks who will all one day bow their knees and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.

Pray for President Barack Obama; not because he’s Black, but because he’s the President of the United States of America.

December 20, 2012

Philosophy of Ministry

A church that I’m really excited to hear back from asked for some more information on me. One of the things they asked for was my “philosophy of ministry.” Below is what I’m sending them. I hope it is the kind of thing they were looking for since I found a wide range of examples of what people and churches were calling by that title.

Philosophy of Ministry

I believe God has called me to equip, encourage, and mobilize His people to be on mission for Him in their daily lives and throughout the world. I am convinced that the best way for me to fulfill this calling is by being pastor of a local church and staying with that church for many years. Developing a healthy church full of healthy Christians which reproduce more of both is the desire of my heart following after being a faithful Christ-follower, husband, and father.

God has revealed in Scripture that He builds the church and that He gives each local church the leaders and members it needs to grow to maturity (Matthew 16:18, 1 Corinthians 3:5-9, Hebrews 2:4, 1 Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4:11-16). According to Scripture, it is the duty of every follower of Christ to, empowered by the Holy Spirit, make disciples of people from all nations by baptizing and teaching them to obey Christ because we are all His witnesses (Matthew 28:18-20, Mark 16:15-16, Luke 24:45-49, John 20:21-22, Acts 1:7-8). It is therefore not my primary duty as a pastor to do all the work of ministry myself, but to serve the church by equipping every member—directly or indirectly—to do the work to which each one has been called (Ephesians 4).

The task of any pastor, according to the Bible, is to “shepherd the flock of God that is among you,” (1 Peter 5:1). Pastoring is shepherding, and shepherding consists of feeding the sheep, protecting the sheep, and guiding the sheep. Any good shepherd will himself also always be seeking to sharpen his tools and develop his skills, gifts, and abilities (1 Timothy 4:7-16). The focus of pastoral work is “prayer and . . . the ministry of the word,” (Acts 6:4). Prayer and the word of God are what the pastor uses to feed, protect, and guide the sheep as well as to train himself.

A pastor/shepherd serves his flock as an under-shepherd of the Good Shepherd. He does so humbly, remembering that the Good Shepherd is also the Lamb of God who stooped to be one of us so that He could die to take away our sin. The sheep do not belong to the under-shepherd, but he cares for them as if they did because he loves them and the One to whom they do belong and because he will be held accountable for them; he is not merely a hired hand (John 10:11-13, Hebrews 13:17, 1 Peter 5:1-4).

I fear that many churches are perpetuating their own decline because they keep hiring hired hands who are later hired away by other churches. I believe churches have suffered a great deal in the not-so-tender care of such men. I believe that pastors have suffered a great deal by being treated as if they were merely hired men—some so much that they began to act like it. I don’t want that to be me. I hope to plant my life in a church and stay long enough for there to be a crop of men fully equipped for ministry as shepherds within the church from which to choose the next pastor twenty or thirty years down the road. I hope to lead a church to actively push back the darkness and advance the gospel into places it has never gone before by sending members and not only money. I have vision for a church where at least 1% of the members are serving as missionaries/church-planters, at least 10% of the members have been on some cross-cultural mission trip in the past year, and 100% have done at least some short-term international missions at some point in their life. I hope to take what has been entrusted to me and teach it to other faithful men who will be able to teach others (2 Timothy 2:2).

God, help me.

September 12, 2012

Tallassee Ministerial Alliance – Prayer for Our Enemies

Filed under: Culture,Ministry,Politics — pecaspers @ 12:53 PM
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On September 11, 2012, the Tallassee Ministerial Alliance and members of our community gathered to pray as we remembered the tragedy of eleven years before. I had the honor of leading the prayer for our enemies. As acts of terror and warfare still fill global headlines, please pray along with those who gathered that day. We prayed:

Our Father in heaven, You are the mighty Maker of heaven and earth. You scattered the nations at Babel, and you called out Abraham to make a nation of his descendants and to bless all the nations of the world through his Seed.

God, in Christ, You became that Seed of Abraham, and by your perfect life, death, and resurrection you became the ultimate Blessing to all nations–the Way to a restored relationship with You for all mankind, for anyone who will repent and believe.

We confess that our hearts do not always reflect Your heart. I’m sure some of us here today have sinned against you by things we’ve done or said against people who consider themselves enemies of the United States of America. We do pray that You would cause any attempt to attack our homeland to fail. We do pray that you would bring an end to the governments and organizations who seek to destroy both Americans and the United States of America herself.

But God, help us to always remember that this country is not our home, that the United States of America is not the Kingdom of God. Those who crashed planes into symbols of our national pride and identity are under your wrath–I am sure–but they are there because they sinned against You, not us.

Forgive us for any time we have wished death or suffering on men and women created in your image. Forgive us for thinking that we are somehow superior for being born in this country and not the Middle East, Northern Africa, or somewhere else. Forgive us for every failure to extend hospitality, kindness, friendship, and especially the gospel to Muslims, or to those we assumed were Muslim, or to anyone else we considered “not one of us.”

Father, by Your grace and through the power of the Holy Spirit, break our hearts for our enemies. So, standing before You based only on Your goodness and the faith in Christ we have by Your grace, we pray for our enemies as you taught us to.

We ask for your gospel–the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Christ alone–to spread like wildfire across the Middle East, Northern Africa, and Central and South Asia.

We ask for You to call out missionaries from our churches to take the gospel to those who have no access to it.

We ask for you to continue to reveal yourself to Muslims through visions and dreams. We ask that you would change the hearts of American Christians so that our own churches would be welcoming to the millions of people who come from nations without the gospel, that we would share with them Your goodness and love, that they would see how their sin has separated them from You, that we would explain clearly how in Jesus Christ You gave the answer to our problem, and that people from all over the world might repent and believe and join the fellowship of our churches. Oh that our churches would look more like people from every nation, tribe, and tongue gathered around your throne and less like country clubs and family reunions.

We ask for you to raise up leaders from our churches to start new churches here in America, especially in the major cities where the nations have come to us.

We ask that you would bring to salvation would-be terrorists so that their fervor could overflow to eternal life for many just like you did with the Apostle Paul.

Your will be done. Your Kingdom come. Forgive us our failures. Use us for Your glory. We pray these things in the Name of Christ and for His glory among the nations…even ours…even our enemies. Amen.

March 15, 2011

In Memorium of Malachi Peterson-Caspers

Filed under: My Life in General,New Home — pecaspers @ 12:00 AM
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I sat down in my recliner and my cat didn’t come try to jump in my lap. That made me sad.

I went to the back bathroom a little while ago, and there’s not a litter box in there anymore. That made me sad.

I went into the nursery earlier and as I left it, I realized it didn’t matter anymore if I left that door open. That made me sad.

I swept the kitchen this afternoon, and now there is no more little bits of cat food in the corner, because there is no longer a food bowl there. That made me sad.

I put the body of my most constantly present and unconditionally loving friend, comforter, and confidant (except for the Holy Spirit of God) into the ground today. And that makes me sad.

But we do not mourn like those who have no hope! (1 Thessalonians 4:13) And we are blessed in our mourning because we shall be comforted! (Matthew 5:4) That gives me comfort.

Jessica, Peter, and I gathered in our back yard today to have a funeral for our beloved cat Malachi. If you find that strange, then I pity you for having such a small and hard heart. If you question the validity of a Christian funeral for a cat, then you need to keep reading because what follows is the essence of my message at the funeral, albeit more fully developed here.

God, in His Word, has not clearly revealed the eternal destiny of animals. In the beginning, when God made everything, He spoke animals into being and they were formed out of the ground (Genesis 1:24, 2:19). That is to say that they are made from the same dirt from which Man was made. The LORD did not breath into them his spirit, but he did put the breath of life into them. And everything that the LORD made was declared good; there was no sin, there was no death, all that God created was meant to last for all eternity. Man fell, and all creation was cursed, but in the beginning, even cats were meant to live forever.

Scripture is clear that though the animal kingdom has been placed under the authority of Man, all creatures belong ultimately to God. He owns the cattle on a thousand hills, He feeds the ravens and the lions, He knows every time a sparrow lands on the ground (Psalm 50:10, Psalm 104:21, Psalm 147:9, Matthew 10:29). God displays His goodness and glory through the way he has made and provides for his creatures (Job 38-41, Matthew 6:26). Animals are part of God’s good creation and He cares for them, and this is clearly taught in Scripture.

Isaiah speaks of the new heavens and the new earth as having animals, re-created and living in peace just as God’s people are (Isaiah 11:6-9; 65:17, 25). In Revelation 21:5 the Lamb of God calls out from His throne, “Behold, I am making all things new.” And so we might yet hope to see our beloved pets made new in the eternal Kingdom of God.

In this life, Malachi was a good kitty. He was well-behaved and well-loved, and he brought a great deal of happiness to our home. We are thankful to God for the gift of the time we had with Malachi. And he will live on in our memories if nowhere else. He is in no more pain. He died wrapped in a blanket he loved to sleep on, warmed by the morning sun, breathing fresh spring air, hearing birds sing, outside…and without anyone telling him to get back inside.

Now Malachi sleeps in death, and this is the way of all things. We were brought forth from the ground, and to the ground we return. But while I don’t know for certain if I will ever see my cat again, I do know for certain that my eternal destiny is clear. Jessica and I know that Jesus Christ has died on our behalf. Our bodies will one day “sleep,” but we will never truly die. THIS is our joy, that while we lay our kitty-friend to rest, we know that our own souls will one day loose these mortal coils and rise to be with Him who has already risen from the dead.

And we rejoiced at the amazing grace that God has given us. Then I placed my friend’s body in the ground, still wrapped in that blanket, with almost every appearance that he was merely curled up asleep in that cardboard box. And I covered the box with dirt, and I planted a tree over him. The tree came from the yard of our first home, and so now we will leave both a part of our first home and a part of our family here if/whenever God calls us away from this place. But like I said, this is the way of things. And we do not mourn like those who have no hope.

Do you have that same hope? Malachi does not bear the weight of moral responsibility like you and I do. While they have to endure the same curse placed on Man who was given authority over them, animals will not stand and be judged by God. Malachi will either be present in the new creation, or he won’t. You will rise and be judged, though. All fall short of God’s standard of perfection–all but God Himself, which is why the Son came to this earth as one of us. It’s why He lived a perfect life (a life you could not live), so that He could die as a perfect sacrifice (to pay completely a penalty you could not pay eternally). And that is why He rose from the dead, because He had paid it all, death could not hold Him. Death cannot hold you if your trust is all and only in the shed blood of Jesus. But if it’s not, then Death already has you. You are held morally responsible by God because you bear His image. You are not just an animal.

It will be a hard thing to get used to not having Malachi around. I think that’s what makes me so sad. I’ve really enjoyed his presence for the last almost three years. But life goes on, and we’ll get used to life without a cat now. So there’s the transition.

January 14, 2011

Job Hunt 2011

I need a new job. No, wait, I mean that I need another job.

Things have gotten far too tight around the Caspers house, financially speaking, so it’s time for Daddy to get another job. You might be wondering what sort of job I might be looking for, and if you are, then read on my friend. Read on.

1) Pharmacy Tech
What? Paul, you really want to count pills, stock shelves, double-check medicine bottle labels? No, not really. It’s not a dream scenario. I’ve already applied to the CVS in Tallassee because…well…they had a sign. Jobs are scarce around here, and the CVS would just about be in walking distance from my house. I could totally bike it if/when I fix my old bike. Anyway, it would put me serving the public, which is good. It would be good money without smelling funny when I get home (no deep fat fryers or beef patties involved). And CVS has pretty amazing employee discounts. I’d like being a pharm tech. I’d probably learn a ton that I’d be able to use in ways untold in the future.

2) Food Pantry Manager
Do wha…? The Elmore County Food Pantry needs somebody to…umm…manage things. They need somebody to work with the volunteers and serve those in need. Do you know who has a generous helping of the spiritual gift of service? The author of this blog, that’s who. I could really dig this one. BONUS: It’s a 30 hour-a-week position that would mostly be on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Therefore, never a “Mr. Caspers, we’re going to need you to come in on Sunday or you’re fired.” “I guess I’m fired then.” Also, it would be nice to know I’m helping others who are having even more trouble making ends meet than we are (and I don’t mean that in any sort of “At least I’m not as hard up as they are” kind of way because I’m about to be). I found this one tonight, I’ll apply tomorrow.

3) Daylight Donuts
Are you serious? There’s not one of those in Tallassee! Yet, my friend. There’s not one of those in Tallassee yet. See. According to the article at that link, they could be open by February or March. Yes, I do need a job sooner than that, but if I get in on the ground floor of the new location they’ll have to train me somewhere. So I figure I train in Auburn ASAP, help coordinate the installation of the new store–I even know where they should put it–and then I am one of the Assistant Managers who receives inventory and then works three other days a week. BONUS: Free left over donuts for the youth on Sunday. DOUBLE BONUS: Super-excellent place to meet with folks for discipleship since I’d be able to discount us both/all. This is the brass ring in my book. This is the Holy Grail of chubby part-time-youth-pastor-turned bi-vocational-youth-pastor jobs. (That would have all been one perfectly acceptable word in German, just so you know.) Our Mayor posted about this on his facebook page, I messaged him about getting their contact info, he said he’d get it to me on Monday, but Monday was all icy and stuff. I’ll message him again…DONE. (I love the fact that I live in a small town where anybody who wants to be can be facebook-friends with the mayor and that it’s actually him, it’s not just some staffer in his office posting stuff on his behalf.)

Pray for me in this. These are the big three. There is also the outside possibility that I could do freelance photography and/or writing for the area newspapers, but that’s a long shot seeing as I have no camera of my own to speak of and no professional writing experience. Slightly less outside–think in the front yard as opposed to out at Chewacla–is the possibility of getting on with one of the local radio stations. That could happen since I have a couple of years of on air host/production experience and a degree in communication (everyone assumes it’s the same as mass communication, who am I to judge?), but I get the feeling it’s unlikely.

Whatever comes of this, it’ll be something new–a definite transition.
And this puts me on track with my “at least one post per week” resolution for 2011. w00t!

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