I am always grateful for God’s grace and faithfulness that we experience in the “house of the Lord” on the Lord’s Day. Even though we know that God inhabits the praises of His people, and Jesus said where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them, I am still amazed and blessed by His ministering presence! His strength that is demonstrated in our weakness. While I don’t want to feel shackled (and won’t be) to have to write a “Monday Morning Musings” every week, there were still some highlights (at least in my mind) of yesterday’s time of ministry that I thought would be helpful and a blessing to you.
Frank King accompanied me to my trip to Gabon, and gave a report that included many of the pictures that he took of that time. It was a great testimony for many reasons. Obviously, he is personally invested in that work since, Garett, his son, and Sara his daughter-in-law, along with his three grandsons are all living in Libreville, Gabon. What he was the most emotional about though was the church there and the people in it, even though there was the language barrier (French). I was very touched that here is a man who has been investing in world evangelism for nearly three decades, and who has a personal connection with Gabon because of his son but.....he is deeply moved by just seeing firsthand what God is doing in the lives of people. Beloved, this is why we do what we do! That God can touch a mature man of many years with a new and fresh sense of vision is a powerful thing.
I preached in the morning about life’s sometimes unwelcome reality: pressure. Specifically, learning to perform under pressure and discover God’s mercies that are new every morning. Jesus told us that this would be a sure thing. He said, “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world." He didn’t say you might have, or there’s an outside chance or slight possibility, no. He said “in the world you will have tribulation. Tribulation is the Greek word, “thilpsis” which was a recurring focus of my message. It might not rank up there with “splancthna” for you who were in Conference in 2007 (another message/story), but it is still an important and frequent Bible word. It is translated by different words (trouble; affliction; hardship) but the simplest meaning is pressure, literally or figuratively. To be alive is to experience pressure, even though we’ve all fantasized what it would be like to escape to a place where there is no pressure! I had someone suggest maybe Maui, but I’m partial to the Big Island. I digress. The outstanding truth and promise is God’s faithful promise to help us and be with us in times of pressure, even times of enormous pressure which we feel are beyond our breaking point. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation [our thilpsis]...” (2Cor.1:3,4) Like you, I may not be particularly fond of this reality of pressure, but I crave the grace and the fact that God can use pressure times or stress to help us grow.
The highlight of the day had to have been the evening service. It was a kind of “anniversary service” commemorating our Spanish-speaking ministry which has been functioning for over thirty years: preaching the Gospel and making disciples. Also, the music group La Luz del Mundo, that has been ministering effectively for 26 years!
Different men have served as overseers and pastors of that ministry, but one thing stands out in my mind: THE INCREDIBLE BLESSING OF LONG TERM LABORERS! In our transient society, and celebrity culture (the proverbial 15-minutes of fame), to have people who faithfully labor for Christ year after year, and now decade after decade, is beyond words. Pastor German Gastelum who was one of the original members of that music group preached and gave the altar call in an anointed fashion. All I can say to all of these people is THANK YOU, and that it is a true privilege to serve the Lord together in a real Gospel partnership!
I’ve got to move on to other things. After all, the “end of the world” has been predicted for Saturday, May 21, 2011! So, I will be studying for next Sunday’s message: “The Day After...The End of the World.” I don’t say this facetiously, but to combat the prevalent error of date-setting, while at the same time fanning the flame of hope in the Lord’s return so that it continues to burn brightly in all of our lives.