As I am studying Galatians to preach this sunday I am just overwhelmed by the struggle that the Christian life is. Yesterday was an amazing day at church. We had a very large team from the States join us and that was nice, but as I was reading the text that I was going to preach on, I saw one of our locals, a girl who I baptized last month. She walked in and sat down. What caught my eye is who walked in with her. It was her mom! Her mom has never walked into our church. She has only said hello in passing. She did come to the baptism but was very stand offish. Her mom is a devote Roman Catholic. When I saw her I almost lost it. My eyes filled with water and I had to do everything in my power to hold back from weeping uncontrollably out of joy. It was such the providence of God that she came that morning as well which was another reason I was so moved. The text we were looking at was such a powerful text on the grace of God and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. It laid out salvation so clear. It contrasted works verses faith. As soon as the message was over I walked right over to her and told her the joy in my heart to see her there and she gave me a huge smile and hug. I have no idea if the Spirit of God took the word of God and got it from her ears to her heart. I pray that it did and she will come back. It was such a blessing to see that. Another couple though talked with me about their family who have been coming over the last month. They as well are devote Roman Catholics. They have a daughter who is 15 and she is so in love with our church and told her parents she wants to be baptized a Christian and they got so upset. They immediately enrolled her in confirmation classes, which take place on saturday nights so she can't come to youth group any more. She is devastated. At the same time, the family is talking about the things of the Lord with the couple whom I was talking to (their family). And the couple told the family that God is doing a work in their lives, why else are they talking of the Lord, something they never had done in the past. The family shared that they want to come to church, but they don't. Sunday they came to the door, but then left. There is a battle going on. The flesh against the Spirit. And even right now as I write this and study for sunday I have this battle going on. I want to return to the States. I want to go back and work and walk away from the ministry. I thought about a family who hasn't been to church in 2 weeks. I was broken hearted and just asking God "Why?" I am burdened over people's souls. I am burdened that just a few weeks ago, our church was full. And yet Sunday we were missing several of our members. And this battle began in my soul. Here God showered me with this beautiful blessing and encouragement of this mom coming and I am having crazy doubts and feeling of letting go. In the back row sunday was a man who was our first member 3 years ago and is still coming. My wife and I always said if we are just here for him, then everything is worth it. Yet for some reason I don't think about that. This man's wife and daughter are mormon. He used to go with his wife to the mormon church and then show up about 10-15 minutes late because he went to their service first. After several months of sitting under the word of God, he stopped going to the mormon church and is on time. The Lord is working and sometimes I think I put to much expectation on myself. We have been seeing in our little fellowship the unity of the body. Fellowship between different social classes that would never happen on the street here. It is just the work of the Spirit. I had been super encouraged and blessed as of late but then here comes these doubts and struggles and the desire to throw in the towel. Why? I am not under the threat of death like so many of my brothers and sisters serving in hostile lands. The Lord is working in and through our church. There is a battle going on between the flesh and the Spirit. This is where God has called me and I am doing what He has called me to do. Success in the kingdom of God is based on faithfulness. Sure it would be so much easier for me to return to the States to a job I loved and a job that I did for over 17 years. That would be easy. It would be easier to go back to the States and minister in my native language, for sure! It would be easier to live in a society that I am accustomed to. All these thoughts have been bombarding me just this morning. If I choose to focus in on that, I will be defeated. The Lord has given me tons of little glimpses of what He is doing and things that should be motivating me to press on. I need, like Paul says in Galatians, to crucify the flesh and walk in the Spirit. The victory is in Christ and through the Spirit of God I can walk in that victory. How can I have such a wonderful day on sunday but at the same time have such a horrible day on monday? Because that flesh rears up and shows its nasty head. Wow to walk in the Spirit is a moment by moment, day by day need. To kill the flesh is a moment by moment, day by day need. May God's grace fill you today as it is filling me. Rejoice in Him and the victory of Christ. Pray for me as I struggle to remember this and live by this and I will do the same for you!
Soli deo Gloria