Dear God, You Rock! Amen!
“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God”
1 Samuel 2:2
These past two weeks have been a whirlwind, a time away from kids, a time in an uncomfortable rental car, a time visiting churches, a time having my idols exposed and crushed, a time of repentance, a time of reunion, a time of joy and a time of abundance. Through all these, the Lord has been a rock! An un-moveable, steady base that all the blessings we have experienced are built upon. I am so grateful and amazed that in all His holiness, in all his power, in all of His eternity, He is steadfast and unchanging. “There is NO rock like our God!” Praise the Lord!
During the last two weeks, Angel and I have had the opportunity to attend “Living in Grace”, a MTW conference held at Ridgehaven Retreat Center in Brevard, NC and to travel over 2,400 miles to share our call to Uganda. I wanted to share with you some of the highlights of our travels.
The Lord’s provision has been abundant! In the last week we have added 7 individual supporters to our team. The time in reconnecting with old friends or introducing ourselves to new friends has been wonderful. The encouragement, the prayers and the excitement that has been bestowed on us is the greatest blessing. We also met with 4 churches on this trip. These meetings were exciting as well. From potluck dinners to morning coffee, the meetings took different forms but the ever-present, unchanging faithfulness of our Lord and Savior was constant.
Through all of these gifts and encouragement’s, I must confess that my sinful heart still looks to my idols of “self”. I was confronted with my unbelief when I read this passage yesterday:
“O you of little faith, why are you discussing among yourselves the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet perceive? Do you not remember the five loaves for the five thousand, and how many baskets you gathered? Or the seven loaves for the four thousand, and how many baskets you gathered?”
I SO quickly forget, so quickly look at the magnitude of the obstacle still in front of me and not the magnitude of my Savior and His accomplishments. The remaining balance of our support budget has become a millstone around my neck, the burden that I have been carrying and fighting against. But Christ has accomplished what I could not, He is victorious! I have been convicted and I am sure will continue to be convicted of this sin. Christ tells us that “my yoke is easy, and my burden is light“, what a joy to drop this burden and rejoice in Christ and His accomplishments! Please pray that my faith will be renewed, that I will trust in the Lord and his goodness and his timing. The work of this “refining” process is not done, for that I am thankful!
Living in Grace
Wow! Just Wow!
There are not too many words that can express what it is to be confronted with your sin and then confronted with the Grace of the Lord. One of the most impactful statements from that week was “In the Gospel I know myself to be a BIGGER sinner than imagined AND at the same time in Christ I am more LOVED and ACCEPTED than I could ever dare dream possible!” Chew on that a minute…pretty amazing, isn’t it? I had the opportunity during the week to be confronted with the magnitude of my sin, of my “idol” worship but I also had the love and acceptance of Christ modeled to me by my wife and the opportunity to repent and receive forgiveness.
One of our teachers, Bruce Young led a session on Repentance, the posture of grace. This was an area that I have always thought I understood. I would see my sin and repent. Problem solved… Repentance is something much more amazing than a trite practice that is performed and forgotten. Bruce said something that amazed me and has been burned in my mind since hearing it, “Repentance is a privilege!” My sins are huge, they are innumerable. The Lord would be totally justified in damning me to hell for all eternity and to turn his righteous ear from my sinful advances. But in His amazing graciousness, He is offered us, ME a path to forgiveness, an invitation to address His throne and ask for forgiveness and to know that He is Faithful to forgive. Wow! Just Wow!
“Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep that was lost. ’ Just so, I tell you, there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who need no repentance“
This heart for repentance leads to a desire to seek out my idols, to confess them and to replace them with a joy in our Savior’s faithfulness. I had this opportunity when Angel confronted me in courage and in tears that I was not loving her and our family as much as I was loving myself. The opportunity to confess these sins, this self-centered idol, to my wife, to receive her forgiveness and her love was an amazing time of experiencing Christ modeled by her. She had “put on” the righteousness of Christ and in doing so, led me to the cross.
This sin, this idol was not only a sin against my wife and family, but it was first and foremost a sin against my heavenly father. But like the father in the parable of the Prodigal Son, I experienced the outstretched arms of a Father who had hiked his robe up and was running to me…He was running BEFORE I had repented. He was embracing me while I was repenting. I am thankful to my wife for leading me to seek forgiveness. What a gift of God she is!
We have been raised with Christ Jesus; we are already resurrected people, permanently and irrevocably. In Christ Jesus this is our identity; this is who we are. We are not a mixture of the old and the new, the old self and the new self, dead and alive, lost and saved. We are a new creation in Christ. “Behold the old has passed away; the new has come.”
One of the greatest parts of the MTW training process is the time to spend with other people on this same path, others struggling with the same obstacles, others who have the same passions and others being sanctified in similar ways. The joy of seeing the fulfillment of the Lord in them was a true blessing. Building the relationships that will last through the years is exciting. To have the opportunity to watch and experience the fulfillment of these promises in their lives and ministries is something that we will forever cherish. What a joy to see Christ actively building His church around the world!