Last Friday night, several of us were privileged to attend Barry York’s inauguration as professor of pastoral theology at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh. Those who’ve known Barry for a while – and those who’ve been blessed through his writings on this site – are no doubt joyful in God’s clear providence, raising up Barry for this great work. As I reflected on this event, here are some things that stood out to me:
Barry is a blessed man. If you scroll through the facebook photos (check out RPTS’ facebook page to see them), you’ll see the several men who gave meaningful charges to Barry. These are some of the most respected pastors and gifted preachers I know. To have such a troop of true friends is a blessing from God. You’ll also see a picture of his wonderful wife, Miriam, who is a bigger blessing than those friends put together. As all these were being introduced, I found myself thinking, “Wow, God has blessed this man deeply…there’s no way he would be here tonight if it weren’t for these blessings.” And Barry, of course, acknowledged the supreme role of God’s beneficence in the first moments of his lecture when he expressed his hope that the evening would stand as a testimony to God’s grace to unworthy sinners. Indeed it did.
Barry is a man blessed in order to be a blessing. Like any blessing we receive from the Father of Lights, it’s given for a reason. The gifts we get are all intended to glorify the inestimable goodness of God as well as prepare us to be His blessing in the lives of others. Such it is with our friend Barry. The gifts he’s received – from his salvation to his family and friends – were all given to build him, to make him the man God wanted him to be. Not only does this make me rejoice in God’s goodness, but it forces me to the question, “Am I? If I’ve been blessed – and I have – are those blessings resulting in the blessing of others?”
Barry is a needy man. Particularly, he is a man in need of passionate faithfulness and divine protection. How clearly we’ve seen entire denominations ruined because unfaithfulness found a root in their seminary! In that light, it’s a huge testimony to God’s amazing grace that our seminary has remained faithful to God’s Word (its inspiration, inerrancy and authority) for over 200 years. But we should never be so prideful to think we or this seminary are immune to unfaithfulness. By taking his new position as professor, Barry is in the front lines, with an even bigger target painted on his back. Because his new position places him in even greater need of the Spirit’s work, I hope that you’ll join me in praying for Barry as well as his colleagues. Let’s pray that God would protect their faithfulness, that he would keep their zeal fiery and that the gates of hell wouldn’t be able to stand against their work.
p.s. – I didn’t ask Barry before posting this…I’m sure he doesn’t like being in the spotlight much. But you’ve all got my back, right?