*this is an entry i wrote for our church blog this week. each staff member was to write about what God was teaching them during our special time of self-examination in preparation for our Solemn assembly.
i was confronted with a cold, hard truth recently. the Gospel is not the constant center of my life or my ministry. while i get busy doing things “for” God or “about” God, i allow other things to take first place and the center of my life and the ministry He has entrusted to me.
this hit me squarely in the face when i was reading through a letter one of the children in ministry wrote to their prayer partner. this child asked, “what must i do to get saved?” while part of me was rejoicing over the fact that God was obviously drawing this child to Himself, the other part of me cringed as i thought “how does this child not know?” is the Gospel not so prevalent in all conversations i/we have with children that the way to God through Jesus is not obvious? i was so convicted that even with all we “do” in children’s ministry, i can often be busy with the stuff and allow the life-changing Gospel to take a back seat. shouldn’t the Gospel be the very source and goal of all i/we do?
then i glared at myself in the mirror of self-examination. can i honestly say the Gospel is a constant center of my life? the truth is the center of my world gets so crowded with myself that the fuel of my faith, the Gospel, can get pushed to the side. my “self” and my sin quench the Spirit and the power it provides, so that when i rub shoulders in everyday life with unbelievers they may not see the Gospel clearly lived out in me.
this time of self-examination hasn’t been “fun”, but has proven fruitful as it has brought me face to face with my defiant sin, to the foot of the cross for forgiveness, and a realignment in center of my heart and mind. (oh, what a day by day process.) i go back to a chapter i love, psalm 51, and think about how david said,
“12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and make me willing to obey you.
13 Then I will teach your ways to rebels,
and they will return to you.”
it was after his heart was broken and sorrowful for his sin that he experiences the sweet cleaning, restoration, and joy of his salvation. then, he could be used powerfully to teach sinners the way so they, too would turn back to God.
most of us would say we want to be used by God, but are we really willing to take these hard looks at our sin and what is the center of our lives? like i said, it hasn’t been fun and at times i have avoided it and grabbed tightly to the comfort of complacency. i am tired of living that way!
as we seek Him in this special time and in each day and week to come may our prayer be the same as the one who was called, “the man after God’s own heart.”
“1Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. 2 Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. 3 For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. 4 Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. 5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. 6 Surely you desire truth in the inner parts[a]; you teach[b] me wisdom in the inmost place. 7 Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. 8 Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. 9 Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. 10 Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. 11 Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. 12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.
13 Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will turn back to you. 14 Save me from bloodguilt, O God, the God who saves me, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. 15 O Lord, open my lips, and my mouth will declare your praise. 16 You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. 17 The sacrifices of God are[c] a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. 18 In your good pleasure make Zion prosper; build up the walls of Jerusalem. 19 Then there will be righteous sacrifices, whole burnt offerings to delight you; then bulls will be offered on your altar.”