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She Floats

Dear Sheep (and Dustin)

I learned a very difficult and important lesson before coming to Pastor at Ripon Baptist Church. I did not know what the lesson was when the Lord began the process but I sure knew it when He was done teaching me. Prior to arriving at RBC I worked for 4 years as as TIG welder in a machine shop. Long story short the lesson was Colossians 3:23 “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not men.” We often quote this and use it when we don’t like what we are doing and need motivation to keep going. Not an incorrect application but not what it is fully intended to convey. The context is found in Colossians 3:18-25. It is about christian conduct in the home. It begins with the wife submitting to the husband (18), then tells the husband to love their wife (19), Children obey your parents (20), and fathers are not to provoke your children so as to invoke  discouragement (21). Then, what appears to be a change, this was common in the time of the culture but not so common to us today. Remember that this is conduct “in the home”. Verse 22 is now addressing “Bondservants” (NKJV). The idea of a bondservant is not common to us and even deemed “offensive” in our culture today. At the time of the writing of Colossians this was common place.

My opinion on this matter is that these individuals were infact slaves but that many were in better places with their master then on their own and that the Masters were not tyrants but loving people. Paul did not rebuke the master for having bondservant but encouraged the slave to honor their master because the master was a loving person, not a modern day “slave owner”. These individuals were often loved and well cared for, they developed relationships with their master and developed a devotion to and for them. These are not the “slave owners” that we are familiar with in the modern day slave trades where people were kidnapped and forced into tyrannical submission, beaten and abused and sold as farm equipment. Let’s make sure our modern day understanding  is not falsely applied to the context in which it was written.

So what does this have to do with my four years at the machine shop? Well, I am glad you asked. I had to learn that, although I did not like what my bosses were doing or what rules were put on me, they (bosses and rules) were there for my good and my benefit. They employed me, paid me, and provided my family with all we needed. They took all the risk in hiring me, invested in me, mentored me, and trained me to do what I could not do prior to working there. I often and regularly did not like the way they treated me, how they talked to me, what they expected me to do, or even when they did what they did. And all the time they were the business owners, they paid the workers, they worked the late hours to make sure the business did not fail. I only had to come in and weld what needed welding. I did not work the books, buy supplies, seek customers, pay vendors, submit taxes. I certainly did not run the business and I for sure did not risk millions of dollars of my own money so the business could exist. I look back and am thankful for how they provided for my benefit. I was not always happy working there but God provided for me never the less.

The application for Colossians 3:22 is that you are to be thankful for the rule over you because they assume the risk and take care of you, they protect you from what you cannot and should not have to deal with. They filter from you what you cannot handle. They do what you are not able nor called to do. In my situation I came in at 5 am. Welded what needed to be welded. And left at 1 pm to go back to my own life with my family. Never aware of all that went on to make sure I could come back the next day and weld again and get paid. Bondservants, obey in all things, not like you work for them (masters) but like you are working for God who knows all things (vs 23). Trust God, that he will use the master to take care of you. Do your job, be happy, rejoice, all the while the master makes sure you are cared for and all the time you are unaware of what the master does for you. Trust him to make sure you will be cared for, just do what you are called to do to the best of your ability so the master can focus on keeping the family together. Just like God does with His children. Let God be God, the children be the children. God will lead and the children can rest in His Sovereignty. God assumes the risk, burden, and labor of the oversight so you can live as He created you to live.

Here is where I must take a turn in my application. Sticking with what the intended application is meant to convey and applying it more directly. There is much chatter and talk lately of  “the condition of RBC”. There have been many family’s that have left and some that talk of wanting to. There is one common theme. It is either that “this ship is sinking” or that “there is no direction”. I am compelled to enlighten you with a little “perspective”.

As of the very end of 2019 and into the first 2 months of 2020, we (RBC) were in the process of working with an architect and managed to produce solid blue prints of a master plan for our building (posted in the breezeway and fully discussed at multiple meetings of the church, paid for and ready at our “yea” to put into action). We managed to work though 2 of 4 major constitutional revisions. We brought, for the first time in almost 13 years, a full board of deacons into service. We radically altered our budget to ensure the ministry would always take precedence over a building. We began the process of preparing an individual for ordination (as of May 19 he was unanimously recommended by the board for Ordination, and all this occurred during a pandemic lock down), and managed to make some very significant improvements to our order of service with music, worship, and liturgy. At this point we were all made aware of the “pandemic” and were placed on a lock down. It has been 2 months and during that time it was deemed illegal to meet as a full body for any service. As a pastor, this is akin to a nightmare. Trying to lead a flock while not being allowed to visit, council, or fellowship in person. The very function of the Church is based on meeting together and using our Spiritual gifts to edify one another (Eph. 4:12). It has been a test and a trial to reconfigure our service and services. During this time I was hospitalized for back surgery and I have been accused of law breaking AND being to submissive to the government for not taking our 1st amendment rights to assemble. 

I want you all to take a moment to think about what it takes to successfully run a family, multiply that by 45 members plus regular attenders. Now imagine not being able to meet with your kids or spouse. Not be allowed to sit at the table together or even be in the same home.  I am telling you that this is not only a “Healthy Ship” but there has been “direction” the whole time. As the “master” of the ship, I assure you that we are not sinking and there is some very definite direction. You may not see it or be aware of it for one of two reasons. 1. You are not involved enough to know it, 2. You are not aware because the leadership is on top of it, because it is their job. If every person in church were involved in every decision it would be an absolute mess. Colossians says “obey in all things your master”. 

I am not God, I am not Jesus, I am not the Holy Spirit. But I am your Pastor and have been given the oversight of this Church. Sometimes information is disseminated and sometimes  it is  withheld for the greater benefit of the whole body. Your boss at work does not share every detail with you but only what you need to perform your job. 

I want to strongly encourage you to talk with me and as always, ask any question you want. I am an open book and would never withhold information unless it was confidential, and that is for your greatest good. Just because we don’t have huge numbers and lots of money doesn’t mean we are “going down” just ask Gideon when God took his 33,000 military men and reduced them to 300 just hours before a major battle (Judges 7:7-9). I am sure you will have questions, fears, even anger over who we are at times. Discussion, communication, and unity is essential for a healthy family. Just because you don’t “see” it does not mean “it” does not exist. As your Shepherd I am telling you we are under the sovereign headship of Jesus Christ and He will never leave us nor forsake us. I love you all, even when you bite. 

This is my heart and this is my belief. I have learned “and whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men.” Col. 3:23. I cannot and will not please everyone. Even if I attempted to do this I would absolutely end up pleasing NO ONE. I must work as unto the Lord and not men. This means that many of you will not be pleased with me or what I am doing. But know that I will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ and will make an account of all that I have done. I will NOT stand before any one of you. I am aware of how harsh this sounds but it needs to be said. 

Never leave without discussing the issue. Make your ideas known, never assume. Trust the Lord to work in your Pastor. If you are concerned that he (your pastor) is not doing his job, then use the scriptural process to address him one on one and face to face. We are believers in the autonomy of the local church. It is your right to address issues. This is my heart and my belief. I have been very forthright about “talking to me about any issue”. I have preached it from the pulpit and said it for 11yrs now. I pray that this letter will stir you up. That it will make you mad, fearful, happy and provoked. I am not dead, we are not dead, God is not dead. On this I am very certain!

Your Pastor of 11 yrs

Joshua J. Sherman 

920-748-3936 call or text  Email

Or stop in my office.


Our facilities are newly located on Oshkosh Street across from Hillside Dental, right next to the walking trail in what was formerly the Affinity Clinic. 635 W Oshkosh St, Ripon, WI

Phone: 920-748-3936


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