He was absolutely the most dynamic man of God I ever knew. His passion for God, coupled with his love for God’s people and His Church, were unforgettable to all who knew him. He was such an effective preacher that thousands were touched in his short lifetime. His smile went ear to ear, and it was heavenly. People lined up after church to get a hug and a friendly “God bless you” straight from his kind heart. Many nights before he preached, he sang and led worship while dancing with joy. His name was Pastor Brent Buck. Over thirteen hundred people came to his funeral celebrating his short life of only thirty-eight years. Most people who really knew him said God loved him so much that He just took him home so he could be with Him.
In 1999, Pastor Buck and a small group traveled from our upstate New York church down to a revival that was taking place in Florida. News had traveled fast about a move of God down there that was drawing thousands of people from all over the world. Our team did not return back from that trip disappointed. Soon after they all got back this dynamic, inspiring, precious man of God made a shocking statement. “While I was at the revival meetings God got ahold of my heart, and I said ‘Yes Lord’ as I was called out by the evangelist. God spoke so clearly to my heart I went straight to the altar. Brothers and Sisters tonight I have to tell you I feel like I got truly saved for the first time!” I remember very plainly hearing everyone laughing. We all thought he was joking. However, his wonderful smile did not fail him as he proceeded to tell everyone that he was totally serious.
I’m not sure that any one of us had noticed any profound change in him after that experience. But in his heart, he knew that God had done something and he was sure that he had to humble himself and tell everyone that God had transformed his spirit anew. I feel the congregation from that point on however made great gains in searching their own hearts for whatever hidden things might be there. You see I believe that in any church the pastor is the most crucial person who needs to experience a personal revival.
This may sound sort of backwards. You might ask “Well, Brother Nolan, isn’t the Pastor supposed to be the most spiritually mature person in the church?” Isn’t he supposed to be the one God speaks to about the spiritual condition of both us as individuals and corporately as a body? Why then would a pastor ever need to be revived?”
I can remember being so excited when God called me to sell my business and go into full-time evangelistic preaching. He first called me to be a prayer intercessor for a seven-year period of time. I spent on average an hour every morning, usually on my face sometimes on my knees seeking the face and the heart of God. This was a call to PREACH! What he had spent seven years filling my heart with was about ready to be unleashed and I couldn’t wait to tell everyone what the Lord had been showing me!
During that same season I was asked to serve as the assistant/youth pastor of my local church. The senior pastor was a seasoned man of God, and the denomination’s Presbyter, a man who had spent all of his life starting new churches. He was a true apostle, and had much wisdom. I spent hours with him in my early years as an evangelist learning the do’s and the don’ts of ministry. One afternoon in the midst of my training, Pastor “K” as he was called, asked me to be the speaker to a group of the regional pastors under his leadership. When the afternoon came during my discussion I remember I made a statement that greatly angered one of the pastors. He told me about it very firmly following the message. The question I had asked which had so upset him was “When in the Bible do you ever see where Jesus hurried?” I guess my own admissions of missing the mark myself, not trusting God enough, and needing to learn more about being truly led by the Holy Spirit were not enough to calm his concerns about what I said.
On our trip home, I remember telling Pastor K about it because I was very concerned about how upset this pastor had gotten. Pastor K said to me “Nolan, there is one thing you must learn and that is that most generally pastors do not like to be preached to by someone they know.” I remember thinking in my naive newness in ministry “Well, who do they think they are?” Today, after many years in the ministry I know who we all are. We are, as the Apostle Paul said; “Unto me who am the least of all saints is this grace given to preach” Ephesians 3:8a (KJV)
Pastors, I can promise you this. If you will endeavor to fervently seek the Lord with all of your hearts in your own places of prayer, God will reveal the secret things of your heart. Prepare to be repentant and humbled as he reveals attitudes of your flesh which to Him are quite frankly ugly. This is not something that can be faked or hyped up to appear real to your congregation. Because when it is real you will feel so broken that possibly it will be hard for you to talk. However when the grapes of your own life are crushed, new wine will flow out and one by one many in your congregation will follow the path of example that you have humbly laid down before them. Like Pastor Brent Buck you may feel as if you have been saved again for the first time…..