LETTERS FROM PASTOR NORLYN
PASTOR NORLYN - Norlyn’s Retirement from Pastoral Ministry at Horizon SouthBay
Hebrews 11:1-2 Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. Through their faith, the people in days of old earned a good reputation. (NLT)
Retirement Date: August 15, 2021
Ministry Length: after 23 years
Age: 75 years
Almost from the beginning of our church the Lord reminded me that “life is but a vapor.” For example during the years, He took my eyesight away for 8 weeks, I’ve endured bouts of diverticulitis, there have been numerous internal maladies, and most recently a blood clot. I’m feeling the years and diminishing of energy and mental acuity. I’ve had this conversation with my doctor and he said, “That’s crazy!” and I replied, “See what I mean?”
About 5 years ago I began asking the Lord for wisdom in this inevitable matter because I saw and heard too many retirement situations that destabilized ministries. Some pastors stayed too long, failed to prepare their congregations, or didn’t raise up capable men to replace them.
Specifically, I asked for a Timothy, a young, brave, passionate for Jesus guy. A lover of the people I have loved for over 2 decades, a man of vision and faith with tenderhearted leadership skills, who has the gift of evangelism. Someone proven not by adherence to a job description but by the obvious outworking of the Holy Spirit before the congregation. I also prayed that he would be mature in faith, humble, a lover of God’s Word, principled, a passionate teacher, a lover of missions, and someone in whom the leadership and congregants of Horizon SouthBay would be drawn to, and finally, someone who had years of service ahead of him.
Which brings me to Eric Martin. Eric attended my Genesis class at Horizon School of Evangelism back in the mid 90’s. He was our missionary sent to assist Juan Flores in Rosarito, Mexico, and became the assistant pastor. We ordained Eric at Juan’s request. Eric has served as a missionary to El Salvador and the Dominican Republic as well as serving Mike Macintosh for several years (still as our missionary) in Coachella Valley as Planning Leader for the Festival of Life in 2010.
In 2012, Eric, Regina and their family moved back to San Diego to care for Regina’s niece after her sister Cecilia’s death. I asked Eric what his plans were when they came off the mission field. He was uncertain but his passion for the Hispanic community was immense. Soon Eric and Regina began serving the needs of the homeless Hispanic community in San Diego County.
Horizon SouthBay began a Spanish ministry several times but it never took off. Yet we had several who had a passion to start a permanent Spanish fellowship. I asked Eric if he would begin a mid-week Spanish Bible study and love broke out among the people immediately. Very shortly, La Palabra was born and we added Eric to our pastoral team and eldership. Under Eric’s pastoral leadership, La Palabra has grown in grace, faith and numbers. He also leads our evangelistic teams and often fills in for me at our Sunday services.
Several years ago, I knew Eric was the young man I had been praying for. I asked Eric to pray that God would show him what His will was in this matter. For over 2 years I waited for God to show this humble, young man what I already knew. Meanwhile, I encouraged him with opportunities to lead and serve in the English side as well as the Spanish.
I don’t have to tell you this but you love and respect Eric as a man, a pastor, a father, a missionary, an elder and a friend, and we find him to be faithful in his call to the ministry among us. Eric has a wonderful wife, Regina, and 3 daughters who serve and support him in both English and Spanish ministries. Eric is 47 years old (though he looks 35) and therefore has many years ahead of him to minister at Horizon SouthBay.
My intention over the next 2 years as I wind down is to do what God called me to 21 years ago, lead this congregation safely through a smooth transition of pastoral leadership. It’s not my intention to create a clone of me but to encourage Eric and this Body of believers that he is God’s chosen servant for the future of this wonderful Spanish/English church in National City and for our missionary servants around the world.
Eric has a different personality, giftedness, and way of doing things than I. We are not to be compared. Let Jesus be Himself through all He has created Eric to be. Serve the Lord by loving and helping Eric as you have me. I expect to see is an explosion of God’s blessings on this church over the next few decades in both languages.
These last 21 years have been the most exciting of my life. I was a fearful and reluctant responder to the call of the ministry but God has proven over and over that (2 Corinthians 9:8) And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work (NIV). By the way, the staff feels the same way as I do about Eric. There are no jealousies or reservations. I’m praying that these coming 2 years will be the most productive of my time in ministry.
The following are my priorities along with teaching Matthew, Acts, and perhaps Revelation:
Encouraging a smooth and peaceful transition
Pastoral care of the congregation
Leadership support for Eric
Spiritual health of each ministry and leader
Fiscal health of the church
Board of Trustee’s transition
Prayer concerns for Horizon SouthBay:
Faith would produce joy, excitement, enthusiasm and participation
The Holy Spirit would pour out His blessings on His people and the community
No dissension or division
No grasping for position
No one left behind, especially our aging brothers and sisters
Doctrinal purity in the midst of Satan’s attacks on the church
A spiritually healthy congregation
A youthful vigor prevailing among all ages
Personal prayer concerns:
Walking by faith through the uncertainties of retirement
Graceful releasing of the lead role
Personal care for Judy and my Mom
Spiritual growth in post-ministry
Finding my role in post-ministry service to Jesus and His church
Financial wisdom in retirement preparation and an affordable place to reside
PASTOR NORLYN - How to Evaluate the Church
Many today set together secular/corporate evaluation methods to see if their church (or ours) is on the right track. They seem well thought-out and often seduce a church body into evaluations that Jesus never called His disciples or church leaders to make.
He gave us the Great Commission and we are called to bring glory to Christ individually and corporately as we carry it out in the power of His Spirit.
At Horizon Christian Fellowship SouthBay, these are our scriptural marching orders and we evaluate our success based on how we attend to them….apart from how our success or lack of appears to others.
The Purpose or Intention of Horizon SouthBay – Are we bringing glory to Christ as a church? How do we know?
Our Vision – WIN, DISCIPLE and SEND
Our Objectives – worship, instruction, fellowship and expression (obedience and awe)
Our Responsibilities for each believer and certainly leadership –
What we do – intercede, love, walk as examples, and ignite for service
What we keep – our heads, hearts, walks and commitments
Who we are – servants, under-rowers, soldiers, stewards, the Body of Christ and finite
Our Essential Characteristics – unity and faithfulness
Our Motivations – love for Christ, gratitude, humility, obedience and excitement for His Return
Our Resources – the Holy Spirit, the Word of God and prayer
When Jesus evaluated the 7 Churches in Asia Minor (Revelation 2-3), He evaluated not in secular terms but in spiritual terms, not in methods but in heart condition, obedience, perseverance, passion, humility, dependence, and walking in righteousness. We also can’t help noticing that He made no mention of size.
Ephesus – They abandoned their first love. They were theological astute and had their doctrinal ducks in a row but they lacked passion for Jesus. As you evaluate your spiritual life, how is your passion for Jesus? Do you love Him with all of your heart, soul, mind and strength?
Smyrna – They are poverty stricken and oppressed. Are you persecuted for standing up for Jesus in your family, workplace or school? While we may not experience intense persecution in America, our brothers and sisters in Christ around the world are suffering extremely and are being martyred for their faith in Jesus. Are we faithful to pray for the persecuted church?
Pergamum – They compromised by engaging in sexual immorality and idolatry. They allowed the world to squeeze them into its mold. Are you compromising the message of the Gospel? Are you living a life worthy of the calling you have received as a believer in Jesus?
Thyatira – They were seduced under the spell of a false prophetess who lured the people into sexual immorality and capitulation to the culture around them. Our culture today screams very loudly that we are not accountable to God and we can do our own thing without fear of punishment. Are you living a life that has no regard for God and His Word? Are you being seduced to embrace the world instead of Jesus?
Sardis – They were a church in “name only.” They had a reputation of being alive but were in fact a spiritual graveyard. Do you have the appearance of being a Christian and do a good job of faking it to those around you but in reality are living a life of hypocrisy?
Philadelphia – They were the beloved church that held fast to the Gospel in the midst of persecution and hostility. They were little in power but rich in God’s grace. Are you holding fast to the Gospel of Jesus? Are you part of a church that might be little “in number” but great in God’s grace and provision? Note that the proof they were bringing glory to Christ was that He opened doors of ministry for them that no man could shut.
Laodicea – They were the blind, arrogant, and self-sufficient church that Jesus was about to vomit out of His mouth because they were lukewarm. They were materialistic and prideful. Are you trusting in your own resources and see no need for God, or are you humbly dependent on Christ for everything?*
May the Lord be blessed as He walks among our church.
Pastor Norlyn Kent
*Some Revelation wording borrowed from Pastor Sean Cole’s article “7 Churches in Revelation present challenge to everyone”…June 15, 2018
PASTOR NORLYN - Our Country and Our Church
In all my years as an "aware" citizen and Christian, I believe there has never been a more vulnerable time for our country and for the organized church, than today. Our country hasn't slipped from its Judeo-Christian moorings, it's purposefully chosen to abandon them.
As I've studied and taught through the major prophets the reality of how God deals with a nation who chooses to disregard Him becomes clear.
Last Sunday, as I was preaching and in post-service considering, my heart was more aware than ever of the "Spirit of Antichrist" that prevails from our highest to lowest positions of political power.
Is the AntiChrist himself now alive and moving in his role, I have some thoughts on that, but I'm unwilling to state them openly because I'm uncertain and conjectures can add to the confusion and diminish the message of what we know to be true. There is no question that the "spirit of antichrist" is reaching a crescendo.
Our choice as a nation to close off the biblical message from our public considerations concerning how we will conduct ourselves as a people and the organized church's jettison of biblical orthodoxy has left "we the people" and even the average church goer to flounder between anti-Christian philosophies; which are "darkness". It's no coincidence that we have no "wisdom light" to guide us in resolving our national and cultural issues.....we're swimming in darkness......by choice.
We are certainly vulnerable to God's corrective hand. I don't know how He's stayed it for as long as He has. What I can't be certain of is when His patience will run out or by what means He will choose to bring correction. He's certainly under no obligation (as He is by covenant with Israel) to do anything to make our national future certain.......and there seems no mention of us in eschatological terms. He may choose to allow us to reap the natural consequences of our choices without correction. Many once powerful nations have dissolved into history with hardly a whisper of remembrance.
Our beginnings and success as a nation carry many imprints of God's protection and hand of blessing (along with some terrible ugliness as well). I have to believe we were blessed because God chose to bless the body of saints who inhabited and even attempted to lead this land in a Godly direction.
I still feel that it's the Christian community that holds the key to our future.....the ones called by His name. Until we His people repent of our sins and glorify Him in our daily lives, I don't believe we have any right to expect His intervention in the natural course of our national self destruction. It's for us to pursue Christ individually and to walk in the light that will do the most good. Perhaps He will once again look on our nation and preserve it for the sake of the community of His saints......I hope so, because I love this country......though my heart aches over its present condition and course.