Drawing Near

A Pastoral Perspective on Biblical, Theological, & Cultural Issues | The Personal Website of James B. Law, Ph.D.

Yearly Archive: 2020

Friday

14

February 2020

0

COMMENTS

Doing a 180° on Clear Paths of Obedience

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Devotional

th-8As time takes us further from our Life Action Summit, I am using my blog to offer pastoral encouragement to my FBCG family. Since the beginning of the year, I have had a simple thought that I have expressed to our church family in our gatherings, “The Lord first…”  May Christ be first in our thoughts, first in our commitments, first in our devotion, finances, plans, dreams, goals, and first in our hearts.  I long for us to savor His promises as we run the race that ends at His feet.

Jonathan Goforth, who lived a courageous life for Christ in China in the early 1900’s, once wrote, “There never has been a revival except where there has been Christian men and women thoroughly believing in and wholeheartedly pleading the promises of God.” In the last month we have sought the Lord together and have committed to biblical obedience that carry God’s promised blessing.

Paul’s words to the Philippians gives guidance as we pursue obedience to our Savior, “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, 13 for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (4:12,13)

To be clear, Paul is calling believers to work out our salvation, not work for our salvation. These verses provide insight into the journey of sanctification in the believer’s life. A process in which we cooperate with God to grow in Christ.  We are to appropriate the means of grace God has given for us to mature: Scripture, prayer, worship, church membership, service, giving, obedience, etc. As we live out our faith in Christ alone, there is great encouragement that He is at work in us, “both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” (v.13)

However, we should not think that we will be unopposed in our pursuit of God’s glory.  We contend with the triumvirate of this world’s system, our rebel flesh, and the devil. To the third foe, the Apostle Paul wrote in 2 Corinthians 2:11, “…we are not ignorant of his (Satan’s) schemes.” Paul knew well the devastating effects of Satan’s lies upon a believer’s life. He was familiar with how the devil’s methods wreaked havoc in the church rendering her weak and pathetic. (more…)

Friday

7

February 2020

0

COMMENTS

Reflections on Recent Life Action Summit @ FBCG

Written by , Posted in Church Life, Devotional

Times-of-refreshing_825_460_80_c1 Times of Refreshing

Twenty years ago this month we hosted our first Life Action Summit under the leadership of Steve Canfield. As I reflect back on my tenure at First Baptist Church Gonzales, LA (FBCG), the Summit of 2000 was one of the most significant moments in the life of our church. That encounter with the Lord was a vital time for us as a congregation. It was a time in which God dealt with us in many ways. It was a season of repentance and obedience in our walk with Christ which prepared us for challenges and growth in the coming years.

The Elders, in anticipation of this anniversary, led the church in hosting another Summit which we have just completed (January 19-February 2, 2020).  Steve Canfield and the team returned for what was an incredible fifteen days together.  On the road to heaven there are some people who make deposits into our lives in which we owe them unpayable debts. This is by God’s design, of course, as none of us in the family of God were created to do it alone. Life Action has provided such ministry to my pastoral work and to the spiritual life of FBCG.

Over the last few months in preparation for the Summit, I spent time reading in church history about special visitations of God’s presence that brought transformation to millions and monumental change to entire nations. Collin Hansen and John Woodbridge have written a helpful work to that end, A God-Sized Vision: Revival Stories that Stretch and Stir (Zondervan, 2010).   I was gripped by one particular sentence that became my prayer as we approached the Summit this past month, “During genuine revival, the Holy Spirit contends and convicts, but he does not manipulate as he grants Christians a new experience of God’s presence and power.” (more…)