*John holds B.S. in Pastoral Studies from Pillsbury Baptist Bible College. He also holds a Masters in Biblical Counseling and a Masters of Divinity from Central Baptist Theological Seminary.
*John is certified as a Biblical Counselor by the Association of Biblical Counseling and desires to complete his ACBC Certification.
First of all, I want you to know that I am a pastor not because I have it all together or because I decided this was a decent occupation. In fact, I tried to run from being a pastor, but God saw fit to magnify HIS Name by using this poor sinner saved by grace. Having been born and raised here my roots run deep in the community of New Prague. I always joke that if you were to poke me I ‘bleed’ New Prague. It was here I played as a child, graduated high school, met my wife, married, and came to know Jesus personally.
When I was 5 years old, here in this church, I thought I came to know Christ because I raised my hand and said a prayer like the other kids were doing. Being the pastor’s son can be challenging because you know all the ‘Sunday School’ answers and you know exactly what people want you to say. You can play the ‘game’ well.
Short bio pASTOR joHN sTEPHENS
It was not until age nine that God in His mercy showed me the weight of my sin and my need for forgiveness in Christ Jesus. I realized that although I said some empty words when I was five, they never penetrated my heart, they never transformed me, it wasn’t real. I knew OF Christ, but I didn’t KNOW Christ and HIS forgiveness personally. I reached out to my mother and it was here from the heart, with tear filled eyes, this broken sinner called on the name of the Lord to be saved. I was born again. Oh, the joy of knowing my sins were cast in the depths of the sea! Oh the joy of knowing Jesus saved me forever! My burden was lifted, and my heart sang of HIS salvation.
Like every newborn I needed to grow and mature, but like every Christian you realize you still struggle with sin. From my earliest childhood memories, I remember struggling with fear and anxiety. I was fearful something bad would happen to those I love, fearful something would happen to myself- I had so many fears locked inside me. It was a hidden life I lived until I couldn’t keep it hidden anymore. I prayed that God would change me to be more like Him but I didn’t understand the process.
This struggle through high school, college, and even into seminary led me down some of the deepest valleys of depression I had ever been. I was having physiological problems as a result and it was all stemming from the amount of stress I was placing on my body. I remember standing, staring at a picture of my wife and son in utter despair thinking to myself, “I am losing everything, I am losing everything.”
Yet, no matter how deep I plunged God’s love plunged deeper. He would always gracious lead me back to Himself in grace and in love. In God’s providence, my brother who was getting his degree in Biblical Counseling came alongside me with God’s Word and pointed me back Home. With God’s Spirit residing in me and God’s Word guiding me I began to examine my heart NOT just my behavior. How painful it was to draw back the curtains and look at what my heart was really chasing. I learned that much of my relationship with God was simply intellectual and not affectual. I didn’t love God like I thought I did. So I began to fight, to repent of idolatry, and run to Jesus even when it hurt and even when I didn’t feel like it.
Then something happened. Something I thought couldn’t happen. I slowly and painfully started to change! It wasn’t the instantaneous ‘light-switch’ change we’ve all looked for but the kind of growth that only God’s Spirit can do. This person I was who lived in constant fear, anxiety, and depression started to rekindle affections for God by actively trusting and loving HIM by faith! In God’s Word and by His Spirit I learned how to fight the fight of faith rather than be swept away by my desires. Now I can say with the Apostle Paul, “Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own (Phil. 3:12).” Now I can say with C.H. Spurgeon that “I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me into the rock of ages!”
It was this spiritual struggle that God used in my life to direct me into full time ministry. I almost changed educational paths to go to school for music as I enjoy singing, piano, guitar, drums, and writing music. God brought me to realize that my greatest passion is glorifying HIM by sharing the good news that broken sinners like myself can be set free by the power of God’s Word and God's Spirit.
If you’re looking for meaning in this life, Christ is the answer. If you’re looking for a place to call home, we welcome you to visit. This church is a hospital for sinners and we are ALL patients of The Great Physician.
Now that I’ve just explained a little bit of my journey with Christ. We would love to get to know yours...
Come visit us!
-Pastor John Stephens