Sunday Thoughts: Comfort

 

Sunday Thoughts

“Unbelievers always think that the best thing in life is that you are autonomous; that you are yourself and that nobody bosses you around; that you are yourself, and that you make the law in your life. You set the law yourself – autonomous. that is the ideal of humanism. But the catechism precisely says, “My only comfort is that I am not autonomous, that I am not my own boss. I have someone else who is my boss. I belong with body and soul, both  in life and death, to my faithful Savior Jesus Christ. I am a Christian in the deep original sense of the word. I am a Christian – that means I belong to Jesus Christ.” – Dr. Jelle Faber

Once a quarter we have a Congregational Meeting during our afternoon Sunday School hour. On these quarters, we have a special Sunday Morning service and an extra Lord’s Supper. We have extra readings of the scripture and extra hymn singing. I treasure these special Lord’s Day services.

This last one, Pastor Jarret preached on Question 1 in the Heidelberg Catechism:

Q: What is thy only comfort in life and death?

A: That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ, who with his precious blood, hath fully satisfied for all my sins, and delivered me from all the power of the devil; and so preserves me that without the will of my heavenly Father, not a hair can fall from my head; yea, that all things must be subservient to my salvation, and therefore, by His Holy Spirit, He also assures me of eternal life, and makes me sincerely willing and ready, henceforth, to live unto Him. 

I’ve treasured this question in my heart for years, but most often looked at the “comfort in death” side of the answer. Christ is my comfort in death, and the death of other believers.

fc0b3b3fe05487fec4de14a0c51ec085I love the show Firefly, but there is a line that has always haunted me: “Everyone dies alone.” Mal says this to Inara when their ship is failing and Mal refuses to leave. He makes sure his whole crew gets off, but he won’t leave Serenity. Inara tries to get him to come with her, telling him he’ll die alone if he doesn’t. His response, “Everyone dies alone.”

When I first heard that line, I thought it true. Cynical, cold, but true. In fact, there is some comfort found in hard truth: Everyone dies alone, no exceptions. Deal with it. Facing truth, the hardness of life can make it easier to deal with. It sets the proper expectation so you aren’t surprised when life hurts.

But, I still found the line haunting. It rolled around and around in my head. I found it disturbing. It’s disturbing. The quote I started with answered some of that for me. ‘Everyone dies alone’ is the end of autonomy. If you wish to have no authority in your life, if you truly want to be god to yourself, then you must face death alone. You can ignore that fact, or you can face it, but either way, you will die alone. And, that my dear readers, is a scary thought. At the end, no matter how you live, you will die alone. The good, the bad, and the ugly will all face darkness alone. For Mal, that is what he wants. He wants to be left alone, even if that means facing death alone. He’s comfortable in those woods cause he’s trusting in himself.

But, what about those of us who have seen ourselves for the dark monsters we really are? Death will bring all that I am out into the light? Do I want a bright light shown on every thought, every lust, every lie, every manipulation, every second of selfishness, every drop of pride, every disloyal second I’ve lived. Do I want my life laid bare for all to see? How terrible and terrifying, how shameful that thought. Hide me, may the rocks fall down and hide me, for I am filthy. I have not a speck of goodness in me. I’m driven by fear, pride, selfishness, and distrust. I am not good.

What is my only comfort?

Christ.

Christ died and took my sin, my guilt, my shame. He took all that ugliness and gave me his goodness. He gave me purity. He washed me. He gave me righteousness. Then the Father adopted me. The Father poured out the love he has for the Son on me, accepting the monster as cleansed. Then, the Holy Spirit, oh faithful Spirit, dwells and works in me. Justification and sanctification. Not a drop of which I earned, but all of God.

And now… I won’t die alone. I will not face that darkness alone, for Christ is beside me. Christ holds me. I am loved. Not because of anything in me worthy of love, for I am fully unworthy of love. Oh reader, if you saw what God can see, you would disown me today. Your forgiveness I could never earn, your love I could never keep. But God. God knowns me better than I will ever be able to admit to knowing myself, and still holds me tightly within his grasp.

I will not die alone.

I will die a sinner, but now alone.

I will die a monster, but not uncovered.

On that judgement day, I will have something standing between me and God: Christ who died for me. And, oh doubt speaking within my heart, you lies of unbelief, guilt saying not me, Christ did the work. Christ is faithful. Christ is trustworthy.

All this is my comfort.

But, like I said, I’ve always thought about this great truth in light of death. But it says ‘life’ too. Life? Yes, what is my comfort in life? It is the same as in death! My comfort is Christ and his work, the love and adoption of the Father, the faithful work of the Holy Spirit. Oh, how this humbled me. I woke up in the middle of the night right after we got our new flooring filled with anxiety. There was so much to do. The house was a mess. Things were unhome like. How could I keep my husband de-stressed and me un-overwhelmed when things were so crazy? So much to do, how will I get it all done? I tossed and turned and thought silly thoughts.

I forgot my comfort. I forgot that God, who adopted me, died for me, forgave me, justified me, sanctifies me, and loves me is sovereignly working all these things out for my good. He is a Father taking care of his child, me. All these things that need to get done, that he has brought into my life are here because he loves me and wants me to grow.

I don’t know about you, but I can make a mountain out of a mole hill. I distrust myself if I’m not stressed out. I feel like the only way I can get stuff done is if I’m stressed about it.

And yet, God has said that I’m not to be anxious.

He has my hairs numbered, and I’m a shedder. But, not a single hair falls that he doesn’t know about and plan.

Reader, this means that money issues, health issues, marriage issues, past and future issues, blessings and struggles are all orchestrated by him for me well-being, and he loves me. Why, oh why am I not sleeping peacefully? I have a Father who can’t be stopped, tricked, or distracted from his care for me. I have a Father who won’t make a mistake, who never stops loving me, who will tend to me. I have a Father who is never abusive or negligent.

Oh reader, what is our only comfort in life and death? That I with body and soul, both in life and death, am not my own, but belong unto my faithful Savior Jesus Christ.

I don’t want to be autonomous. I won’t to belong to Christ. I don’t want to be anxious about taxes, meal prep, cleaning, organizing, managing money, or time. The best way for me to not be anxious isn’t for me to become a billionaire. It’s to trust Christ who died to save me, the Father who adopted me, and the Spirit who indwells me.

Truth is the best help against the madness that is midnight anxiety. Truth is the best help against the darkness of death.

This is truth: Christ, our faithful Savior.

“…the Trinity is the foundation of all our communion with God, and comfortable dependence on him.” – 2LBCF 2.3

 

 

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History in the Making: IRBS and Heritage Baptist Church

I’m a history buff and come from a long line of history buffs. My area of focus is Modern Military History, with a central focus on WW2. I love well done historical movies, historical fiction, and non-fiction. Swept up in the drama of our stories, I wonder if the people living through the events realized they stood on the cusp of change? Did they see what was about to hit them? Did they sense the shift of the story? Or were the changes so gradual, they acclimated easily? Is it only upon stepping back that we gain a sense of the turning points, the catastrophes and eucatastrophes, of history?

My guess? Yes and no. Sometimes history sweeps around our ankles like a gentle stream. Sometimes, we’re carried along, never really noticing the turns and bends of the bank. We’re too deep in to get a good overview. Sometimes history stands up, waves it’s arms, and screams. Yeah. We see that.

Back in April, I had a standing, screaming bit of history type moment. For years, our association has worked with Westminster to provide our young men with solid seminary training. My brother graduated from Westminster and IRBS just a few years ago. This has been a wonderful blessing to both ARBCA and Reformed Baptists in general. But, deep in our hearts, we have longed for a seminary of our own. We have wished to train our young men in a stand alone, confessional, associational facility.

Through many blessings and providences, this became more than a dream, less than a reality a few years ago. Ideas were explored. Long conversations were had. Prayers were raised. The option of opening a true, confessional, reformed seminary loomed on the horizon. For a while, it was just discussed, but the momentum continued to grow. Official presentations were given. Money was raised. Then, joy of joy, a location was put forth. Finally, in April 2017, at the ARBCA-GA, the seminary was voted on and passed.

Dear readers, for the first time since the 1700s, the Reformed Baptist will have a confessional, association supported, stand alone seminary. Praise God!

And, it is coming in 2018, Lord Willing, to OUR church.

History just smacked us all in the face to make sure we were paying attention.

See, all the wars, battles, discoveries, and adventures that weave through history and set the course of our lives, are nothing compared to the true History of Christ saving a people for himself. It is nothing compared to redemptive history. Our unimportant world history is only the backdrop for the real work of Christ and his Kingship. World history is temporary and will burn in the end. Church history is the real history that will last for eternity, and much to the joy of my little historian heart, I get to take a front row seat and watch that history unfold.

Even now, some of the best theological minds in the Reformed world are preparing to move to Texas. No pressure. It is a bit intimidating to know that as soon as July our church is going to start changing. We’ll have new attenders, who we all know, but who are still new. We’ll have projects that need to be headed up. We’ll have people who need places to stay. Once people have moved into the area, and the seminary is ready, we’ll have students arriving from all over the world. Not everyone will come to our church. We’re not the only confessional, associational Reformed Baptist church in the area. That’s wonderful. We love our sister churches. But, either way, our church is looking at some major changes.

Over the last few years, we’ve lost some members. We’ve seen our church change as people we thought of as key have left. Recently, we’ve had an influx of new attenders and new members. We’ve had baptismal services and added new deacons. In a way, HBC has been through a lot of change over the last few years, and now we’re facing a lot over the next few years. It’s exciting and a little terrifying at the same time. For those of us who have been members for years and years, there is the fear of losing our precious little body to something bigger. There’s a fear of getting lost in the change. But, there is an excitement to being involved with such a visible moment of Church History. And there is trust that Christ will jealously defend and protect His bride. We rest in Him.

As for me and my family specifically? Well, my husband is one of the Gifted Brothers/Licensed Teachers at our church. We both believe his preaching and teaching gifts should be developed. We both believe that serving the church is the best way to use them. When HBC was selected to host the seminary in it’s founding years, we decided we wanted my husband to be in the first classes, Lord Willing.

Last year, we did all the research to sort out what he needed to finish his Bachelor’s Degree. Much to my joy, excitement, and pride, my husband graduated from UTA this May with a Bachelors of Science degree. Our plan is for him to start Seminary in the fall of 2018. I’ve gone back to work part time to help with this.

So, not only is our church changing, but our family is changing. Please be in prayer for us at HBC and our family. There are many challenges to face. There are changes already happening. There will be new difficulties, opportunities for sanctification, and lots of sinners working together.  Please pray that we would come at this with sacrificial love, forgiving hearts, and lots of humility. This will not be easy. Oh, it sounds fun and exciting, but the reality is is that this will not be easy. Please pray for this endeavor. Please pray for our endurance. Please pray for our churches and this project!


If you’d like to learn more about the Seminary, and or support it, here is the link to its website, and its FB page.

http://irbsseminary.org/

https://www.facebook.com/InstituteofReformedBaptistStudies