There are times in the Christian life where things don’t come so easily spiritually. Some would even say that this is the normative experience for the Christian, meaning that the easy times are the exception to the rule. However, often times the Christian culture says that there’s something wrong with you if your experience is different from days that are only sunshine and rainbows, without the rain. It’s the sentiment that is alarmed if you’re not feeling fantastic, and thinks then that you must be in crisis. This dichotomistic approach however is far from the experience of “normal” people – whoever those are. The stay at home mom certainly has many days where things are less than “awesome” and the handyman has those days where his projects are going to far exceed the estimates he originally gave. The pastor’s life is no different often from the professional baseball player, who is considered successful if he gets a hit three out of ten times to the plate. Out of ten people you’re praying for and working with, three are doing well and seven resemble the foul tip strike out, ground out to the pitcher, or flyout to the second baseman. You had just the right response to the homeless man on the street, but you blew it with the Jehovah’s Witness who knocked on your door. You gave the wrong reference to the person asking for help with a certain topic, and then you were impatient with the kids when you got home from work.
In the face of “real life” we must come to grips with the reality that we aren’t perfect, that we’re not as awesome as we think we are, and in fact, are far more broken and messed up than we would ever care to admit – but it’s only after settling with this that we can embrace Christ as Savior of the mundane. Rather than being crippled by guilt or fear over a failed witnessing or discipleship attempt the Savior holds out his arms and lovingly bids you “come and find rest for your soul” rather than scornfully withholding his love till you get your act together. It is here that we can understand joy while we are under trials of various kinds. We can hope in God and rest in Him while acknowledging with Paul “O wretched man that I am, who can deliver me from this body of sin?? – Thanks be to God, through Christ Jesus” for He alone is able!
This is where I find myself most of the time. This doesn’t mean flatly ignoring the natural impulses or desires that are part of what it means to be human. This doesn’t mean to reject the longings of the heart which are given by God yet remain unfulfilled by His providence, but means to continue to trust and look to God through Christ while being honest about our struggles. It’s saying with the father whose son was overtaken by an unclean spirit “Lord, I believe! Help my unbelief!” – In the story the man is coming to Jesus to heal his son, and Jesus says that the desired outcome will happen if he believes, and the man responds in this way. I find that in my life there is always a mixture of belief and doubt. I’ve really never doubted the basic tenants of orthodoxy since coming to Christ, but I am often filled with doubts which ultimately attack the sovereignty and goodness of God. Either God is out of control in this situation and I need to worry about the situation or God doesn’t have my best interest at heart, and I need to jump off the wagon to ensure that my happiness is secured. I know it might seem like a stretch to come to this next point, but Valentines Day is one of those battles.
It’s far more difficult just seeing the average number of relationship related posts, but it’s a time where out of my approximately fifteen hundred Facebook friends, probably half of them are either dating, engaged, or married, and it seems as if all seven hundred and fifty of them are posting all at the same time about their new marriage, engagement, relationship status, or fancy dinner with their significant other. The rubber meets the road in this applied theology by touching heaven and earth and saying “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!”
Lord, I believe that you are good and sovereign, but help my unbelief at a time when so much only serves as a painful reminder of the broken world that I’m a part of. Help my unbelief at a time when I’m at an intersection of competing worldviews, both outside the church and inside. Help my unbelief when I desire to follow Christ, yet also obey the imperatives that are made difficult in a world where all have gone astray and none are righteous. Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief!
Andy Woodard completed Bachelors and Masters degrees at Bob Jones University before moving to New York City to serve as Director of Ministry Development at New...
This last week here at “the mission” has been fairly routine with the exception that Pastor Bill and Galen both are out of town. Pastor Bill went up to Michigan to participate in a churches missions conference and Galen went to Israel!...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
On Saturday, January 24th we had a work team of almost two hundred students, faculty, and staff from The King’s College come and partner with us in a “Day of Service.” Through the tireless efforts of King’s City Engagement...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
This last week the Lord brought a wonderful group of volunteers from a church in Springfield, Missouri into our ministry. They were on a mission trip to NYC and were working with a man who’s one of the pastor’s of a “sister...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
While I was in a diner on 23rd street I saw Pastor and Mrs. Jones talking with a homeless man that approached them at the light.
Good evening, This last week has been filled with special blessings. We’ve had a number of guests and visitors at the mission. Even now as I write on this Sunday evening, one of my guests is packing his bags in preparation to head home...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
The resolutions of Jonathan Edwards have been something that I have found both challenging and encouraging since I first became aware of them four or five years ago. One of the more poignant methods of bringing his resolutions to bear in my life...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Merry Christmas! Holiday festivities are in full swing here in the city, and we’ve taken advantage of some of the opportunities to enjoy Christmastime in the city. We went ice-skating in Bryant Park on Saturday night and really had a...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Good evening! Bradley and I just got “home” from the midnight food pickup, and I remembered that I hadn’t written the blog post yet. I tried doing a video update, but when I had the camera going I couldn’t think of...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Good evening, We loved having the NYGM board in town for a couple days this last week. They were a great encouragement to me and the other staff. They bring such energy to this place! As mentioned in last week’s blog post, we did a baptism...[ abbreviated | read entire ]
Happy Post-Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, Merry Winter, etc, etc. Thanksgiving at ‘The Mission’ turned out to be almost everything that it was advertised to be. The only thing lacking was the all-nighter. Galen, Brad,...[ abbreviated | read entire ]