Hello, my name is Randy Burbank. I am an ordained pastor in the United Methodist Church. I have been serving churches since October 1, 1974 at the ripe old age of 18. But I was blessed to have several good mentors and role models including my Dad, Rev. Alvin Burbank (yes, I was a preacher’s kid, but I will say more about this in a later blog).
I will confess up front that at times I struggled to find my created identity as a pastor, husband, Dad and especially as a real disciple of Jesus. A failed marriage testifies to this truth. And even though I failed at so many things, God’s grace was so much bigger. He took the messes of my life and begin to redeem them and ME!
In this process he brought into my life a means of grace that I shall forever be thankful–my beautiful wife and true partner in this Kingdom life, Debbie. She saw me as a broken man and loved me anyway. I call her “a means of grace” because she saw things in me I had either forgotten or had never seen. And on November 13, 2004 together we experienced another means of God’s grace when we became one as husband and wife, and a Team that God has used in so many ways. Between us we have 3 living children (Debbie lost a daughter in an automobile accident in 1995) and 8 grandchildren. One of my great joys is hearing them call me by my favorite name, “Grandpa”!
In God’s continual transformation of my life and molding my created identity, He led me to Reggie McNeal and his book “Kingdom Come”. Since October of 1974 I had been doing my best at “church work”. What God revealed to me through the man and the book is that my work, OUR work, is much more than church work. Our work is to be “Kingdom Work”. Jesus taught more about the Kingdom of God than He did about the “church” (Bible Fact: Jesus mentions the word “church” in only 2 settings; He speaks of the “Kingdom of God” 65 times and the “Kingdom of Heaven” another 32 times; both terms refer to the Rule of God in human lives).
In that model prayer we call “The Lord’s Prayer” (really it’s the disciples prayer because they asked for information on transformational prayer) He said “Thy Kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven” and not “thy church come”. Thanks to Reggie McNeal my eyes were opened to what Kingdom Life is all about. His image of Kingdom Life comes from Jesus’ own description of this life:
John 10:10 (NLT) “The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” In The Message translation it reads: “A thief is only there to steal and kill and destroy. I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of.”
The Greek word used here for life is “zōē” and from Strong’s Concordance, it means “the absolute fulness of life, both essential and ethical, which belongs to God, life real and genuine, a life active and vigorous, and to last for ever.” A phrase of McNeal’s that has stuck with me is “life as God intended”. There is another Greek word for life which is “bios”. This is where we get our word “biology”. “Bios” life is the day to day breathing and beating of the physical heart. It is important, but it has no deeper purpose or meaning. God created us to have purpose and meaning in life. Kingdom Life is that life that is overflowing with our created design and purpose.
Currently I am the Lead Pastor of Sheffield First United Methodist Church where we are stepping out of “church work” and stepping into “Kingdom Work”. As with most established churches, it has started with changing our culture from a mindset of what happens inside a physical address (as in our case 701 North Montgomery Avenue, Sheffield Alabama) to what is happening out in the communities in the lives of people. God is doing an amazing work in changing our culture and the future is very bright for this “traditional downtown First Church”.
And this is why I am calling this blog “Kingdom Pastor”. At the age of 60 years old I have been re energized because I have finally uncovered and embraced my identity as both a disciple of Jesus and as a called out pastor of the Kingdom of God. As you read my blogs I pray that there will be “Aha” moments in your “zōē” life and I sincerely pray that I may write something that might just make you mad, mad enough to open the Scriptures and open your mind and heart to God who knows you have the “bios” life but longs to give you real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of, both now and forever!