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pastors' blog

Elder Interview: Rick Goodenough

Posted on July 31, 2014

Rick Goodenough was the first South Shore Baptist voice I ever heard. He served on the search committee that brought me on board and conducted my first interview. He spoke passionately about SSBC’s caring people, faithful gospel preaching, servant leadership, vibrant worship, and commitment to missions & outreach. He clearly loved this church family. Since that first phone interaction, I’ve served alongside Rick on a number of ministry teams, including Connections, Membership, and the Elder board. The more I get to know him, the more I encounter a man who deeply loves God and desires to serve His people. Here’s a little more about Rick…

Read the full article here

Elder Interview: Rick Coughlin

Posted on June 19, 2014

Rick Coughlin might be the friendliest person I know. More than just gregarious, Rick is large-hearted and cares deeply for people. He’s faithfully shepherded his Growth Group for a number of years. I cannot tell you the number of times I’ve witnessed Rick put a hand on the shoulder of a struggling friend and pray right there, following one of our worship services. And I’ve been that friend he’s prayed for as well!  It’s a privilege to work alongside this brother.  Here’s a bit more about Rick and his family…

Read the entire interview here

Elder Interview: Bill Haeck

Posted on March 3, 2014

I will never forget the first time I met Bill Haeck. Jeni and I strolled into a lunch gathering during my candidacy time. I quickly noticed a man with unusual garb: a University of Michigan polo shirt and blue pants with my precious UM emblem plastered all over.  Needless to say we embraced as he said “welcome home!” Clearly, this church was special. On a serious note, Bill does double-duty at SSBC, serving as Elder and part-time Administrative Director on staff. Bill’s strong leadership combined with his marked servant attitude have added tremendous productivity and a sense of calm to our crazy scene.  Here’s a bit more about Bill…

Read more about Bill here

Elder Interview: Kent Forkner

Posted on February 3, 2014

When Jeni and I arrived on the South Shore for the first time, Kent and Lisa Forkner hosted a welcome gathering. We enjoyed their hospitality and generosity. I’ve seen this kindness extend to a multitude of others at SSBC, as they have hosted Elder meetings, home gatherings for visitors, ministry team meetings etc. Lisa even served on the Connections ministry core team during its early days. Serving with Kent on the Elder board has been a privilege.  He is thoughtful, organized, and winsome in his leadership. Here’s a little more about Kent and his family…

Read about Kent here

Elder Interview: Jim Kleberg

Posted on January 6, 2014

I met Jim and Debbie Kleberg for coffee a few years ago. They immediately struck me as a gracious couple. Their commitment to the Lord and His church was clear. Their love for the gospel and ministry, especially to married couples, was evident. But I didn’t see Jim’s unique combination of strength and tenderness until he recently joined our Elder board. I know you’ll enjoy getting to know the Klebergs in this brief interview…

Read more about Jim here

Learning the Art of Sermon Application

Posted on July 24, 2013

After 15 years of preaching, application is still one of the trickiest parts of sermon writing. Why?

I struggled early on because seminary equipped me well for exegesis and interpretation, but not as well for Bible application. That’s why we have the stereotype of the fresh-out-of-seminary pastor whose sermons sound more like a Bible commentary and less like a word from God. And speaking of commentaries, they seem to provide infrequent help in applying the text. They tend to serve us best by addressing interpretive issues. read more…

7 Tips for My Younger Preacher Self

Posted on July 19, 2013

One of my fellow elders teaches at a local seminary. He sometimes invites me to speak to his students from a pastor’s perspective about sermon preparation, preaching, and church ministry. During a recent lecture, one of the students asked me, “If you could go back and give advice to yourself as a beginning preacher, what would you say?”

I’ve been preaching now for more than 15 years. I don’t know if that’s enough time to make me a Jedi Knight preacher who’s fit to train newbies. But it does feel long enough to think of what advice I would give to myself if I could go back in time.

Here are seven suggestions for new preachers based on self-reflection, as well as from observing new preachers over the past decade and a half.

read more…

Reflections on the Boston Bombings

Posted on April 29, 2013

Some thoughts from Kent Forkner, one of our elders at SSBC.

As I’ve been pondering the horrific events from two weeks ago, I’ve been asking myself how should I, as a Christian, respond?

      1)   How should I think and respond differently given what I have in Christ? 

      2)   How should I equip myself to better share what I believe? 

      3)   How can I share the truth of Christ with others and help others to see things beyond the temporal at such a time as this? 

I seem to have more questions than answers and I have talked with others who are struggling with the same questions.  While I don’t have all the answers by any means, let me share some thoughts.

How should I respond?  I think that I first need to admit my fear even while acknowledging that, as a Christian, I know Christ can and will carry me through.  Whether we were at the marathon, had a friend impacted by the bombings, or are just struggling with emotional shock, we can be assured that Christ provides for us and cares for us in all times and especially in times like these. Philippians 4:13 promises us, “[We] can do all things through him who strengthens [us].”  As we learned  during the sermon on Sunday, that verse means that Christ provides for our needs, including our spiritual needs.  He does this directly through his Word, through the Lord’s Supper, and through his churches.  Also, in Matthew 10:28, Christ reminds us to “not fear those who can kill the body.” What wonderful promises we have that He cares for our needs – both spiritual and physical.  We can rest in Him. (read more…)

A Job Description for Lay Elders

Posted on November 20, 2012

You were humbled—and a little surprised—when the pastor asked you to serve as an elder. You prayed about it, talked to your wife, and got the input of a few trusted church members. With a mixture of trepidation and excitement you accepted the nomination, and a few weeks later you were voted into office.

Now you sit at your first elders’ meeting, waiting for things to start. And a nagging thought arises: “Okay, I am an elder. Now what do I do?”

Read more…

Elders—The Church’s Lead Disciple-Makers

Posted on November 20, 2012

Are you an elder in your church? Then you should be one of the church’s lead disciplers. You knew that this was a key part of an elder’s job description, right?

Let me back up just to make sure it is clear. If I had to pick one image to best explain an elder’s job in the local church, the choice would be a no-brainer: the New Testament predominantly portrays elders as shepherds.

Read more…

Elder Interview: Tim Ells

Posted on September 20, 2012

I spent a few days at Tim Ells’ home during my candidating time at SSBC.  Tim and Janet were not only gracious hosts, but kindly debriefed with me after long days of conversations and interviews.  Many respect Tim at SSBC – and rightly so.  Tim is a man of few words; but when he speaks people listen because he is wise.  What most impresses me about Tim is his love for SSBC.  This love Tim has is manifested quietly and courageously on the Elder board.  And it comes out in his behind-the-scenes service as a Growth Group leader, 5th grade Sunday School teacher, Connections greeter, prayer warrior for Sunday morning services etc.  Let me turn it over to Tim (and by the way, he’s not kidding about the frisbee throws; I am a witness)…

You can find the remainder of the interview here.

Elder Interview: Eric Mello

Posted on July 19, 2012

My first interaction with Eric Mello, the vice-chairman of our Elder Board, occurred a few minutes before the first ministry meeting I ever led at SSBC.  I was the nervous new Pastor and Eric the seasoned Elder.  I don’t remember what he said, but his presence and words set me at ease.  My second memory of Eric happened at his home, where Jeni and I joined his family for dinner.  We ate, chatted, laughed a lot and played Dutch Blitz.  On our drive home, Jeni and I agreed that the Mello family was “awesome.”  Eric and I co-lead a Small Group, which gives me an insider-look at this shepherd at work.  He’s the real deal.  With that, I’ll turn it over to Eric

Click here for the interview.


Making the Most of Your Bible Reading Time

Posted on March 19, 2012

During college I struggled with one of the essential practices of Christianity:  daily, focused communion with God through Bible reading and prayer.  I knew I should do it.  I could quote most of the scripture references about why reading the Bible is crucial.  I even learned some tools that would help me dig deeper into God’s Word.  But I still struggled to regularly crack the thing open, let alone putting time into studying and praying through it. (read more…)

Conversion and Your Church’s Architecture

Posted on March 7, 2012

In 2004, our church building project hit a wall.
Up to that point, our plans to expand the church facility had moved forward slowly but surely. The congregation had approved drawings, voted to build, raised funds, and hired specialists to acquire the necessary building permits. And one by one the town granted our permits, until we came to the Board of Health. In 2004, the Board indicated that our septic system plans would not pass. So we withdrew our application from the town. (read more…)

Be a Tortoise, not a Hare

Posted on December 15, 2011

You know the classic fable: The cocky rabbit challenges the other animals to a race. The tortoise accepts, much to the hare’s bemusement. The race begins, and the rabbit dashes ahead—so far ahead, in fact, that he has time to nap. But while the hare sleeps, the tortoise faithfully plods on and crosses the finish line first in a dramatic upset. The moral of the story: Slow and steady wins the race. (read more…)

Becoming an Angel

Posted on November 7, 2011

This past summer someone asked me, “How do we become angels?” It was a sincere question, prompted by pain and confusion. This person had recently lost a child, and people had tried to comfort this grieving parent by saying that the lost child had become an angel. (read more…)

Two Good Books on the Church

Posted on October 26, 2011

This fall I read two new books about the church that I want to recommend. The New Testament deals extensively with the local church and assumes local congregations are central to Christian discipleship. And yet so often we give the church little thought and study! (read more…)

Trusting in Christ Alone

Posted on March 14, 2011

Let not the Jew boast in his Torah observance, because “no one will be declare righteous by observing the Law.” Instead let him hold fast to the Living Word, Jesus Christ, the Messiah of Israel.

Let not the Muslim think that he will attain paradise by submitting to Allah through the five pillars or Shariah Law. Instead let him call upon the one who was so much more than a prophet, and let him meet the God of love and mercy. (read more…)

For the Church: How Can You Support Parachurch Ministries

Posted on March 2, 2011

Below is the second blog Pastor Jeramie has written for 9Marks Ministries. Below are the first few paragraphs. Click on the link to read the entire blog. (read more…)

Three Dimensional Suffering

Posted on February 1, 2011

This past Sunday we studied Deuteronomy 8:1-5, in which Moses reflected upon Israel’s forty years of wilderness wanderings. Moses identified several purposes behind Israel’s trials in the desert for four decades. God led Israel through the wilderness 1) to humble them (8:2-3,16), 2) to test them and so reveal their character (8:3,16), 3) to provide for them (8:3-4,15-16) and 4) to discipline and teach them (8:5). The text is a great encouragement to us as Christians as we face trials and suffering. God has purposes for us in the midst of pain, deprivation and hardship.

But there’s another layer of purpose to consider. (read more…)

Staying to the Glory of God: One Preacher’s Death Wish

Posted on January 5, 2011

Pastor Jeramie was asked by 9 Marks ministries to write a blog… below is an excerpt of the blog and the link to the full article below. (read more…)

The Moses Model

Posted on December 23, 2010

I call it the “Moses Model.” It’s a view of church governance that grants complete authority to a church’s pastor. A Christian brother explained it to me this way: “The pastor is supposed to be like Moses. He goes into the tent to hear from God. He then comes out and proclaims what God told him. The elders say “Amen” and the people follow.

Though they might not appeal to Moses directly, many pastors follow a similar model of pastoral authority. (read more…)

Refinancing Your Worldview

Posted on May 21, 2010

My wife and I just took advantage of the current low interest rates and refinanced our house.  A lawyer came to our home for the closing and had us sign a stack of documents.  We initialed and signed and dated for almost a half hour.  The lawyer gave us sound-bite explanations of what we were signing, but in reality I had neither the time nor knowledge to fully grasp everything to which I affixed my John Hancock.  At some point in a closing you have to take a leap of faith, embrace the whole system, and start scribbling on whatever gets put before you. (read more…)

Exposition and Sufficiency

Posted on May 19, 2010

May 3, 2010 Pastor Jeramie was invited to speak at the New England Center For Expository Preaching’s annual Pastor’s Conference. One of the talks Pastor Jeramie gave was published online. Below is the link to his talk.

Read more…

Why Do We Vote?

Posted on February 24, 2010

Our congregation recently met to decide on the building project proposal.  In an amazing show of unity and enthusiasm, the church voted by over 96% to move forward with the expansion.

The vote also produced some interesting conversations.  A newer attendee to SSBC asked me, “Why do you vote?”  In other words, why did SSBC use congregational voting as a mechanism to make this decision to build?  As Baptists we take voting for granted.  But not all congregations operate in this manner.  Is congregational voting biblical, or is it a sanctified version of democracy or a baptized New England town meeting? (read more…)

Next Step: The Membership Covenant

Posted on December 27, 2009

Last Tuesday the congregation adopted a new doctrinal statement, the product of almost three years of revision and discussion. This robust document will serve our church well for generations.

Now we turn our attention to revising SSBC’s membership covenant. Section 13 of our new doctrinal statement begins, “We believe that a visible church of Christ is a congregation of baptized believers associated by covenant in the faith and fellowship of the gospel.” So what is a church membership covenant? (read more…)

Is Church Membership Biblical?

Posted on December 7, 2009

I dropped in on the church membership class today to field questions from attendees. One of them, a teenager, asked a basic but critical question: “Is church membership in the Bible?”Great question! It’s true that there is no 11th commandment in the Bible that says, “Thou shalt be a church member.” Nor do we have any explicit descriptions of the early church setting up a church membership system.

And yet, church membership in some form seems implied throughout the New Testament. (read more…)

First Baptist Church of Skype

Posted on April 21, 2009

What makes a church a church? We began to unpack this question at our 5pm Discussion and Prayer meeting Sunday night, April 19.  We started with the basics: a church is a gathering of Christians.

But that immediately raised a question for us: do the Christians have to physically meet together to be a church?  Could a group of Christians form a sort of virtual church using teleconferencing and IM chat?   Why couldn’t believers “gather” via the internet from around the country or the globe on a weekly basis to talk, pray, hear a message and interact? (read more…)

Fortune-Cookie Bible-Reading

Posted on February 7, 2009

My wife and I love Asian cuisine.  My children are in the process of learning to like it.  At this point their favorite part of the meal is still probably the fortune cookie.  Crack the “cookie” (I use the term generously) and out falls a pithy line about your life, sometimes with a lucky number or two included.

We often approach the Bible like a fortune cookie. (read more…)

Fix your thoughts on Jesus

Posted on November 5, 2008

On Sunday we studied the command in Hebrews 3:1: “Fix your thoughts on Jesus.”  We learned to fight against unfaithfulness and temptation in our hearts by cherishing and treasuring Christ.  When our hearts savor the Savior, we find sin’s allurements increasingly weak and hollow.

After the sermon someone asked me, “You often talk about fixing our hearts on Jesus.  But practically speaking, how am I supposed to do that?”  (read more…)

“It’s the end of the world as we know it . . .

Posted on October 28, 2008

. . . and I feel fine.” So goes the chorus on R.E.M.’s song by the same title.  In some ways those lyrics sum up how I feel about our upcoming presidential election.  Because when you watch too much cable news, listen to talk radio, or even some talk among Christians, you can get the idea that America’s ultimate fate hangs in the balance of this vote. (read more…)

The Blizzard of 1978

Posted on March 24, 2008

On February 5, 1978, I was a kid living in the warmth of the desert southwest.  On that same day Boston was buried in the legendary Blizzard of ‘78.  Just ask New Englanders where they were in “the blizzard,” and they will regale you with stories of towering snowdrifts, houses swept away by the storm surge, and cars stuck on the highway for days. (read more…)

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