POSSIBLE MOVE TO FULL-TIME NEXT YEAR
As many of you know, I have been trying to get full-time with CARM. Well, it looks like it may happen next year. My wife and I both agree that I definitely need to do this. After all, it is very difficult to work a job 40 hours a week and then come home and answer so many e-mails, write papers for CARM, and do the administrative work necessary to keep the entire site running. Needless to say, it is very time-consuming and I am becoming more and more drained in the effort. But God has been very gracious, upheld me, and given me a steadfast desire to equip the body of Christ to the ministry of CARM on the Internet. It is work, but is my calling.
So, please lift my wife and I up in prayer as we contemplate the the decision in the next few months as to whether or not I should quit my full-time job and do CARM. It'll be a bit risky. The support is mostly there and even though it isn't quite enough, we may take that step and trust the Lord to provide the rest through the body of Christ.
Since we have moved to Boise Idaho, we have not been able to find a church that fits our needs. There are many good churches here, but finding that "right mix" is quite difficult. It goes without saying that I am not easy to please when it comes to churches since I have been a pastor, and as an apologist I'm constantly critiquing sermons. This is a fault that I have been struggling with for a long time. Nevertheless, even my wife declares, sadly, that the preaching we have heard is not been very deep and is catered more to making the Bible fit our needs, instead of letting it loose to change our hearts and our lives. Therefore, another family and mine, have begun to meet in their home on Sundays where we have worship and I present the word to them. I'm very grateful for the opportunity to teach and it is a bit intimidating since they look to me to instruct them. I pray that I speak what God wishes and not what I desire.
I can't help but wonder how many other Christians are becoming disenchanted with regular church and are now meeting in homes. Lately, I have been hearing of more and more Christians doing this very thing. I know that there are many pastors out there who teach the word of God in truth and do it with great sincerity, prayer, and effectiveness. We need to give thanks to God for them.
But, on the other hand, I have noticed over the past few years that many pastors are teaching milk toast theology. More and more I have seen pastors struggling to find relevance in God's word and make it fit the needs of the people. I've always been bewildered by this since all you have to do is just go through God's word and speak from it as truthfully, as powerfully, and is closely as to what it actually says as possible. Let it loose. Let it convict, exalt, change, empower, weaken, and strengthen us. Let it loose!
Anyway, I'm rambling.
I thank God for the pastors that He has provided the body of Christ and I am so very thankful for the word of God that is so powerful. How wonderful it will be in heaven where will be unfettered by our bodies of death and we are finally able to gaze into the face of Christ and see Him in his glory. In his presence all of us will worship, adore, and have wonderful fellowship, without sin, forever.
Do you look forward to that? I do.
Conviction: a sign of life
Sometimes Christians become complacent in their faith because they become too comfortable. The sad thing is that oftentimes it is the churches that help them become this way by providing comfortable chairs, air-conditioning, wonderful worship music, and good comforting preaching. Now, these are all good things and should not be ridiculed. However, if these things become a stumbling block for us by stopping us from being stretched and from reaching out, then we need to deal them as problems, not assets. Being comfortable in the predictable regularity of church services, without the convicting preaching of God's word, can breed in us a complacency and leads ultimately to mediocrity and sometimes doubt.
To be complacent means to be self-satisfied, relaxed, and unconcerned. When we are self-satisfied we do not stretch. We don't take risks and we don't seek to improve -- because there is no need to do so. This leads to mediocrity. When we abide long enough in mediocrity we sometimes come become doubtful of our faith and the power of Christian truth.
The power of God's word is great. It has the ability to cut to the deepest part of our souls and bring up one from its depths both the horror of our sins as well as the beauty of God's indwelling and forgiveness. I don't know about you, but I thank God for those precious times when He causes me pain. The pain I speak of is the pain of conviction.
I remember once when I committed a particular sin. I did not plan it. I was caught off guard and said something that wasn't true to someone. Before I knew it, it was over and done. I stood there amazed and saddened all at the same time. How could I have failed to be honest? It hurt. Immediately and was convicted. But, I tried to brush the conviction away. I rationalized that my sin was a small one and didn't hurt anyone. But the truth was that I had not been honest to someone. Even though no one knew this but me, my unexpected lie was an offense to God, and God knew it. So, the Lord in His great mercy, His great kindness, and His great grace, condescended and convicted me of my sin. I tried to ignore it. But, He would not leave me alone. I had hoped that with time the Lord would ease up on me. But I was wrong. The Holy Spirit was knocking at the door of my heart. He would not let me go. He was persistent and patient. The longer I waited, the worse the conviction became.
It did not take but a few days before I finally accepted the fact that I needed to confess my sin to the one who I had offended, even though that person was unaware of my offense. So, I humbled myself before God by humbling myself before man. I contacted the person and confessed my sin to him. He was gracious.
Immediately the conviction ceased and the peace of God's presence returned. I had answered the call of God to do what was right. It was a great relief.
If it had not been for the conviction of the Lord, I would not have confessed my sin. I would have hidden it and hoped to forget about it. But God would have none of that, and I am thankful for it.
One of the things we learn when God convicts us of our sins, is that it our conviction means that God actually is in us working, letting us know that integrity does matter, and that He wants no part of our sinful actions (except, of course, when he removes them by the blood of His sacrifice). God is never complacent with our sins. He takes them very seriously.
The unbelievers do not have the Lord God dwelling in them so they do not experience the conviction of God in their hearts. They are dead in their sins. In contrast to this, because Christians are saved and indwelt by God, they experience the conviction of God within them. This is evidence that they are indeed indwelt by the living God who takes in their sanctification seriously and who will prod them in patient and loving correction, through the grace of God's Son, who died for our sins.
So, when the unpleasantness of conviction befalls you, consider it an act of God's love and an evidence of the life of God in you. Praise God for His mercy and grace to us in showing us where our sins are so that we might confess them, be cleansed, and bring glory to the Son of God who cleanses us of our sins.