Our Priorities at TVBC – Part 3
To a seasoned golfer, a slow party ahead of you is one of the greatest aggravations in the game.
Such was the situation as four guys impatiently waited on the foursome in front of them. Three guys were sitting in their carts while the fourth was pacing through the rough. After several minutes of observing this, one of the angry golfers began yelling at the threesome parked in their carts. He shouted, “Why don’t you go over there and help him find his ball?” One of them hollered back, “He found his ball, he just can’t seem to find his club.”
Sometimes that’s the way life plays out.
It is the common call of the Lord to all His children. It is a call to a very uncomfortable place and thing. As Christians, we have been called to live in the middle, the center.
“In the middle of what?” you may be thinking. In the middle of what theologians simply call the “already” and “not yet.”
Already Christ has come. Already He has suffered the wrath of God in our place. Already He has died and rose again. Already the Word of God has been given to us. Already the Holy Spirit has been given to us as well.
However, not yet has satan been stamped out. Not yet has this fallen, sinful world been restored to what it was designed to be. Not yet has the final kingdom come.
Yet, as believers and the church, with anticipatory patience and hopeful perseverance, we’re called to live smack-dab in the middle of the already and the not yet.
And we’re called to do a difficult thing—wait.
I must be very real and confess to you: I’m not good at it. I don’t like to wait—and, if I were a betting man, I would guess you don’t like to, either.
James 5:7 illustrates and paints this picture wonderfully:
Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains.
Perhaps there’s no more character quality for a believer between the already and the not yet than patience and perseverance. Patience, simply stated, is the quietness of the heart, the rest of soul in the face of a very uncomfortable—and, sometimes—an awkward delay. Sin causes us to not like delay because sin causes us to shrink our world down to the right here and right now, to the “me and mine,” and to the present moment.
And that’s why James reminds us of the coming of the Lord. You can’t understand the call to patience and perseverance unless you view it from the perspective of eternity. Everything that is happening in the here and now is a preparation for then.
Think about it: If there’s no such thing as eternity, then patience doesn’t make any sense, does it? If there’s no such thing as a forever, then the total game is how most people live today: Get whatever pleasure as you can get, as fast as you can get it, and as much as you can get in the here and now.
But God calls us to a patient and persevering life. As a church, this impacts at least two areas in being patient in the Lord’s work at TVBC:
Yes, we need to plan for the present ministry, but we also need to be thinking in terms of 20, 30, and even 50 years down the road in ministry in this area. Someday, as the Lord wills, someone is going to replace me as pastor. After all, it is God’s flock. Any pastor is only temporary, by God’s grace.
We must understand that we’re not moving up some church competition ladder. That is a gross, common, and ungodly way to think about it.
Being patient as a congregation means we ask the question: Are we building a congregation in the Lord’s Word or the next greatest thing? Are our priorties between the already and not yet for God’s glory and Gospel?
Will you pray for wisdom for our church as we seek the Lord’s will for all aspects?
If size is the success of our church, our desire for numerical growth will outrun everything in our ministry. We will cut short or resort to unbiblical methods and not preach the true Gospel. We will trip over the hurdle of our own ambition!
Let me remind you of the simple, biblical formula:
Faithfulness to the Lord and His Word = Success
It is a reality that’s both frustrating and freeing: faithfulness is success. We’re released from the demand of visible results. We keep preaching, praying, and personally discipling faithfully—the first 3 P’s.
When we look out a month from now, knowing this truth, we’ll take that as God’s kind killing of our flesh, if were limited in numbers. God may choose to bless us with numbers—and what a wonderful blessing that would be. But, ultimately, we stay faithful to Him, His Word, and His church.
God’s timing is perfect (Ecc. 3). Trading in size for faithfulness is the yard stick of success is the path to legitimate church growth. Much like Joshua, our confidence is in the presence, power, and promises of God (Joshua 1:8).
Will you pray for patience on all levels, in all decisions, and in all operations at TVBC? Pray for God to be glorified as we seek His will, His plan, and His Word for the wisdom and strength necessary to minister to our neighborhood, church, and beyond.