Welcome to the March 19th newsletter.
Normally I produce two newsletters per month. But this past three weeks has been rather difficult. Work has been very stressful and I really needed to take a break. So, I took a week vacation and did nothing but vegetate. It was great. Then, a few days after going back to work, I became very sick. It's nothing big, just one of those bugs that takes your body and a man handles it enough for you to beg for mercy and wish you already had the resurrected body God has promised you. But praise the Lord, I'm through it and back up and running.
Full time status
The fact is that I cannot continue to work a full-time job and I do CARM at the same time. It is too difficult especially since CARM has become so big. In fact, right now I have over 600 e-mails to answer, 200 groups to analyze, and around 300 more questions to respond to. I'm inundated.
So, my wife and I have been discussing this for a while and we are going to take the plunge. On July 1, I hope to quit my job and go full-time in CARM. It is a risky decision but I must make the break some time. At present, CARM brings in about one half to two thirds of what we need financially to run this Ministry and pay the household bills. So, I thank you for signing up for this newsletter and supporting CARM. Every little bit helps. But, could you please remember me in prayer as they seek the will of the Lord in this matter? Thank you.
On August 23, I will be in Austin, Texas, speaking at the "Faith and reason for them." There will be some major speakers there and I will be a breakout speaker on the topic "theology and sneakers." If by any chance you are in the area at that time and would like to attend, please go to this link: http://www.faithandreasonforum.org.
The home church is still doing well and a fourth family has joined us. I cannot tell you how much we all look forward to Sundays. To be honest, church had always been somewhat of a duty that I had to go to. I'm not saying I didn't enjoy it, but it was, well, the thing you did on Sunday. But now, I look forward to going days ahead of time. The other family members say the same thing. Is a wonderful time. We are close knit, comfortable with each other, and eager to serve God and hear His word. Instead of going home right after church, we often hang around for hours just talking. The families are telling me that it is the best church experienced they've had. And as I mentioned before, there are several young men from the local Air Force Base who attend. They also tell us how much the fellowship means to them. It is a wonderful time and I'm very grateful for it and them.
Steve, if you read this, we miss you buddy! (Steve got transferred to Korea.)
Prayer and God's will
"For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you, 10 always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you," (Rom. 1:9-10)
In these two verses in the opening of the book of Romans, Paul mentions his unceasing prayers to God for the church at Rome. He wanted to be with them and, as is found in the next verse, to impart a spiritual gift to them. But we see that Paul, an apostle of God who is seeking to come to Rome and visit the church, did not get his prayer answered. At least, not in the way that you would think. You see, Paul did get to Rome but it was because he went as a prisoner. It was the will of Paul to quickly go to Rome and visit the Roman Church. But it was not the will of God that this happen. Instead, according to God's will and His sovereign plan, Paul was imprisoned and was led to Rome in chains.
We have a question that we can ask at this point. Was the prayer of Paul to go to Rome a prayer that pleased God? Now think about this. Paul wanted to go to Rome to minister to the Roman Church. But in the infinite wisdom and eternal decrees of God, the Lord had predestined that Paul would enter Rome as a prisoner. So when Paul was praying and asking to go to Rome, and yet God's will was that he not go there except later as a prison (Acts 27:1-28:17), was Paul's prayer agreeable to God even though it was not in harmony with specific His eternal purpose? Likewise, if God has eternally ordained whatever is predestined to occur (Acts 4:28), then can our prayers that are not in complete accordance with His will be pleasing to Him. The answer is yes.
You see, we are responsible for what is the revealed will of God, not the secret will. God desires that we pray to Him and that we ask Him for such things as forgiveness of sins, intercession for others, healing, etc. We know that we are to pray these because we have been instructed to do so in the Bible. Therefore, we are in the will of God when we ask for forgiveness, intercession, and healing. But, what about those things where we do not know the specific will of God. Can our prayers be agreeable to God when they're not in His absolute and perfect will? Again, the answer is yes.
Our prayers are agreeable to God when they are offered in humility, sincerity, and submission to God's will -- and, most importantly, when they are offered through the one and only High Priest and mediator, Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5).
It should be the nature of our prayers when we do not know the exact will of God in a matter (like buying a new home, getting a new job, or moving), that we offer those prayers upon the condition that they be within the will of God. Our requests to God do not mean that we have the right to demand anything of Him. Rather, we have the privilege, through Christ, through the cross, to approach the throne of God and ask the Holy Father those requests that are upon our hearts. But, even as Jesus said in the garden, "not my will, but your or will be done," (Luke 22:42), so too must we offer our prayers to God with those same words, "not my will, but you or will be done."
Prayer that seeks the will of God is a privileged necessity. As Christians we are to pray for the revealed will of God, for the spreading of the gospel, for carrying out the Great Commission, and for our own sanctification. Such prayers cannot be empty words. They must be accompanied by intent and submission to God's will with an intent to accomplish what God has revealed. This is why to pray without action is to mock God because it means we do not think enough of speaking to God to act upon our words thus uttered. Likewise, to act without prayer is arrogance because it means we do not need God and His counsel, and thus we rob Him of His glory.
Paul the Apostle sought to complete his prayers with his actions which he earnestly desired to be in harmony God's will. Therefore, we too need to pray and be willing to act upon our prayers and to do that which is necessary to accomplish those requests; that is, if it be within our power to do so and if they be according to the will of God. And, for those prayers whose ultimate answer rests in the eternal decrees of God, we must pray in humble submission seeking His divine will and always trusting Him no matter what the outcome. To God be the glory as we seek His face and carry out His will.