Journey to Grace

Tim Brister —  March 10, 2008 — 37 Comments

As the Spring semester came to a close last year, I began praying specifically about what God would have me do after seminary, given that I had roughly two semesters remaining here in Louisville. My prayer was basically that the Lord would open a door during the course of that summer and give me direction as to where he would have me go, serve, and give my life in gospel ministry. Shortly after I began praying, I was approached about an opportunity that I never imagined or considered myself doing. For a period of about two months, I shared regular conversation with the pastor about ministry and whether I sensed God’s leading in pursuing this opportunity, that is, with the intention of being open to serving as an associate pastor.

Knowing very little about the church, my wife and I were invited to spend a weekend there for a mini-vacation to see the area and get to know the church. I spoke several times and was able to meet many of the members, all of whom were a great encouragement to us. From that visit, we believed that it was God’s will to formally consider the position at this church. The following six months included what you would expect from church inquiry, such as resumes and references, and the elders came to the conviction that I was to be recommended to the church for the position of Associate Pastor.

During that time of waiting and praying, I wrestled for several weeks (if not months) about God’s leading in this matter. However, that period of time made the confirmation all the more sweet as I began to have an abiding peace and resignation to God’s purpose for my life. Last month, it was made known to the church that I was recommended for the position and would be coming in a couple weeks to visit and preach in view of a call, which took place last weekend. And yesterday, the church gathered together to decide on the recommendation of the elders to have me as an Associate Pastor of their church. Through a live video conference call, I received word that they had voted in almost unanimous manner to have me and my family come, to which we enthusiastically agreed.

So where exactly are we going?

At the conclusion of this semester, we will be joining Grace Baptist Church of Cape Coral, Florida.

The past nine months have been an incredible journey for us, and we are thrilled about God leading us to Grace. While I could give you numerous reasons why I am confident that God has brought us together, I will say that reading The Mystery of Providence was quite apropo! πŸ˜‰ As a minister, this decision carries with it (Lord willing) a life assignment, and I have not taken such a monumental decision during these past nine months lightly. As a husband and father, however, this decision also carries huge implications, and I can say without hesitation that there is not another body of believers that I would rather have my wife and family to know, love, grow, and serve together. Grace has welcomed us into their homes, into their hearts, and into their lives, and it is there that they have made us feel like we’re home.

Furthermore, it goes without saying that their pastor, Tom Ascol, has been like a spiritual father in my life over the past three years. There is not another pastor and shepherd who loves his people, exhibits the grace of the gospel, and preaches the Word like this man. To come alongside him, to serve and assist him in pastoral responsibilities is a tremendous privilege and responsibility that is humbling and exciting. As one who is young and has much to learn in ministry, God has placed me under the tutelage and training of a great Bible expositor and gospel-centered minister, and I pray that as a good steward of such a trust, I will be useful in the kingdom and in building Christ’s church.

The people of Grace Baptist Church are those whom we look forward to rejoicing with, weeping with, laughing with, and grieving with. Already God has given us a longing to serve and minister with them, and our greatest challenge will be in the next two months as we begin to transition from seminary life to life in the local church – Grace Baptist Church, our new home.

Please pray for us and for Grace as we make this transition. I will keep you updated on the developments in the upcoming weeks and months. This journey is just beginning for us, and I cannot wait to see what God has in store. With every step, with every move, and with every decision, it is my heart’s desire that I have trusted God, treasured Christ, and triumphed his gospel for the glory of His name and the good of His people.

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  • Look at the awesome privilege of being in Japan!—-I didn’t have to wait so long to read the wonderful news since it is still daytime here and bedtime for all of you in the U.S.! πŸ™‚

    What a wonderful evidence and testimony of grace! How exciting, I rejoice with you and your family (both Dusti and Nolan AND Grace Baptist Church)!
    May His peace and love permeate your heart and life in the days to come.

  • Timmy,

    It’s a joy to watch your journey from afar. May God’s grace overflow in your lives.


  • Pingback: Timmy Accepts A Call To Grace Baptist, Cape Coral | Said at Southern Seminary()

  • Joe

    I am so excited for you all, and can’t wait to hear about the ministry there.

  • Brad Jones

    I am about 2.5 hrs away and know a great cracker barrel where we can meet up πŸ™‚

    I look forward to it.

  • Great news, brother. I am very excited for you and your family! What a great blessing to have the opportunity to serve with Tom — we look forward to hearing all about it in the months to come as things get off the ground. Soli deo Gloria!

  • Oren Martin

    Timmy – I rejoice with you brother in the Lord’s gracious leading. May God give you many fruitful years of ministry for the glory of Christ and good of his church. We still need to get together!

  • Congratulations on your new life-long assignment!

  • John Stone IV

    I’m sorry I couldn’t be at Grace Baptist last night (providentially hindered). I can’t wait to hear more of your preaching and look forward to getting to know you and your family more.

  • Congratulations Tim!

  • I guess that you won’t be seeing much more snow!

    We look forward to hearing more about your service among God’s people.

  • Congratulations Timmy! I look forward to seeing the grace of God manifested even more in your life as you serve Him at Grace.

  • Conibear Trapp

    Florida?!? I think you didn’t give enough consideration to a call to International Falls, MN. Can you say -44 F? Just think of all the standard old jokes you could use. “The Frozen Chosen.”

    Congrats on your new ministry!

  • Sarah Feather

    We are So excited that ya”ll are coming!! Sam, I and Eli cannot wait to get to know you and Dusti and Nolan better. Praying for you all!

  • Sarah A

    Praise God from whom all blessings flow!! I was out of town yesterday, but I was thinking of GBC, praying for ya’ll and on the phone with my sisters to find out what happened as soon as possible. We are so excited by what God has done and can’t wait for you, Dusti and Nolan to arrive!!

  • James

    Praise the Lord! I enjoy reading your blog and this is great news. I have a friend down there in need of the Gospel, maybe I can point him in your direction.


  • Congratulations on your appointment to Grace. You and your family will be a welcome addition.

  • I would love to respond to each one of you, but I cannot at this moment. Just let me say how much I appreciate your warm regards and shared excitement about what God is doing in my life and the life of my family. I am overwhelmed by the prayers and support of so many people, and I sincerely hope you know how grateful I am for your interest and involvement in my life.

    Those of you in Louisville, this means that we need to get together soon!
    Those of you in Cape Coral, this means that we need to get together soon too!
    Thsoe of you on the blog, this means, well, I guess it means I will just keep blogging here too. πŸ™‚

  • thomastwitchell

    Congratulations Tim.

    What more than wow! Keep ta in line!

  • Congrats bro! God is faithful.

  • WOW. Brister and Ascol?

    Brister -and- Ascol.

    Well, Ascol and Brister, right? πŸ™‚

    Tim — Congrats to you for having this opportunity, and for choosing wisely.

    Tom — Challies will never forgive you, but the rest of us will. Florida needs more right-minded, founders-friendly ministers of the Gospel, and Timmy is a fine choice. I hope I get a chance to stop by some time and see what God is doing down there.

  • This settles it — we will be taking regular Florida vacations starting in 2009. πŸ˜€

    Timmy, my dear brother, you are one of the godliest men I have been privileged to know. You have shown clearly that God has given you a heart for his work and a teachable spirit. You’ve been an example to me in many ways and for that I thank you deeply and with great praise to God for allowing our paths to cross.

    If I can’t find you this week, then at Band of Bloggers I am giving you a big man-hug. For now this little e-hug will have to do! πŸ˜‰

  • BTW, there is a big Deaf population in the Cape Coral/Fort Myers area and it seems there are no Deaf churches around (the nearest is in Tampa) and only two Deaf ministries in the area, according to my 2007-2008 Southern Baptist Conference of the Deaf (SBCD) directory. Of course, that directory is not exhaustive, but it can be considered comprehensive.

  • Oh wow, congrats brother. I’m very happy and excited for you, and will miss having ya here at Southern!

    I think we’ll need a Said at Southern going-away party for ya before ya go;-) haha

  • Mark

    When you said going South in view of a call, this was the first thing that came to mind for some reason. It is a great opportunity for you and I pray the Lord will richly bless you in this endeavor. Just don’t become a Gator or Nole fan, I’m sure your Crimson upbringing will help you avoid that virus. Ha.

  • Thanks a ton everyone for your words of affirmation and encouragement. As I was leaving a lunch appointment this afternoon, I saw someone at the end of the hall with his fist held high. I thought, “Is someone preaching down there or something?” I looked a little closer, and I saw a huge smile on the person’s face. Within moments, I saw that it was Dr. Nettles coming my way, and there in the center of Honeycutt hall, he gave me a huge hug and talked about the mystery of God’s providence.

    I can easily say that there has not be one person who has shown more excitement and joy personally to me than Dr. Nettles. For those of you who know the details, this means the world to me. We are looking forward to having a meal together soon and sharing our experiences and talk about the future together. God has done remarkable things in this past year, and it was been so exciting to have a front row seat to the unfolding of His plans for my life as well as others. To him be all the glory.

  • John & Cathy Higham

    Congratulations brother! I was privileged to meet you a couple of times when you were visiting on your mini vacation. I met you once when I was dropping off some pavers at Pastor Tom’s house and then I was able to speak to you briefly about John Piper and evangelism in the kitchen area after you preached at night service. My family and I were so greatly encouraged by your preaching. Thank you. We were absolutely bursting with joy when our Pastor announced that you would be presented as a candidate for Associate Pastor. We can tell you that we are greatly praising God for you and your family. We can’t wait for you to get down here and start serving the Lord with us. We love you and your family. If you need help moving or any assistance at all please do not hesitate to call us. We will continue to be in prayer for you all. We know it is a great deal of change and moving is always a daunting challenge. My wife, our children and I moved from upstate New York back in 1998. There is a great temption to be stressful. Please let us know how we can make things easier for you all. Please allow us to serve you in any way we can. If you have any practical needs let us know how we may be helpful. Timmy, you are a great man of God and we are so encouraged by your ministry as well as the clear evidences of God’s grace at work in youand your wife. I have a great heart for evangelism and I personally am very excited to labor together with you reclaiming the centrality of the gospel and reaching the lost. Cathy, I and our children-Rachel, Jake, Nick, Thomas, Julia, and Madison cannot wait to get to know you and Dusti and Nolan better. May God richly bless you and your family as you set out on this new adventure.
    “For we are the aroma of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing, to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life. Who is sufficient for these things? For we are not, like so many, peddlers of God’s word, but as men of sincerity, as commissioned by God, in the sight of God we speak in Christ.”
    2 Corinthians. 2:15-17 Amen brother!

  • Kenan

    I’m delighted to hear the news. Congratulations!

  • Karin Barry

    Congratulations, Tmmy – we look forward to having you serve the Lord down here with us. We are truly blessed.

    Dusti – that means no more snow! The beach in the middle of the winter!

    Thinking about what Frank said. . . A – B – C – wouldn’t Ascol, Brister AND Challies be some combo?!

  • Great news, Timmy. It will be a privilege to pray for you in your ministry across the Atlantic.
    God bless you, your family, and Grace.

  • Tyler Smith


    I have been praying for you concerning this for some time, and I am glad to hear the news. Congratulations to you and Dusti! The both of you have always been a great encouragement to me all the way from your ministering to me as a college student in Athens to being my friends here at Southern. You have been a huge influence on me whether you realize it or not, and I will always be grateful to you and to the Lord for you. I hope to keep in touch with you in some way as you make this move. I pray that the Lord will give you grace as you seek to serve Him in Florida. Blessing to you brother.

  • Rees Mwasambili

    Hey Tim,

    Very good news and to God be the Glory. Tom and his wife have been to preach at the Zambia Reformed Conference and I pray you would have a chance to soon. I would be excited to meet you in person. Many many blessings to you and youe family.

  • Rees,

    A little off topic but not really. My good friend I told you who served in Kasama is going back to Zambia (Lord willing) by the end of the year to serve for another three years. He will not be Kasama but in another region (which I cannot recall at this time). I would love to get him in touch with you as he is a very dear brother and wonderful minister of the gospel.

  • Congrats Timmy – there are a great number of elect that are currently strangers to the covenants of promise having no hope and without God in the world. I pray you are burdened daily for them and your life might be spent among them as you lead the people of Grace outside the camp.

    A rich and deep blessing to serve with a man who is a mentor to you. I know this is something for which you thank God.

    Blessings man

  • Thanks Reid! And I agree 100%. Heb. 13:12-13 has been the driving passion of the ministry God has given me. May the Lord be pleased to use me to bring more worshipers to His throne of grace.

  • Rees Mwasambili

    Timmy, please keep me posted on this. Could you give me a bit more details about him (name etc.)? My email:

  • Rees,

    I will email you and also give him your contact information. He is a dear brother with a great love for God’s Word and for God’s people. I believe the two of you would be a wonderful encouragement to one another.