I underestimate the gospel in a myriad of ways. I underestimate its power to convert the homeless who come to our Sunday gatherings once in a while. I underestimate it to convert the workers at the park. I doubt its power to convert USC students. I underestimate the gospel in my lack of proximity to non-Christians in more of my life. I doubt the power of the gospel to keep people from flying off into legalism when I preach the commands of Scripture with vehemence (DeYoung). The testimonies shared helped me to see this. Thabiti gave a few diagnostic tests to see if we underestimate the power of the gospel. I failed in these: (1) I don’t position myself among the worst of sinners, (2) I fear man more than God because I worry far more about fruitfulness than faithfulness, (3) I don’t always preach the gospel to open eyes but sometimes merely to transfer information, and (4) my confidence in Sunday preaching and personal evangelism is often in my preparation, prayer, sanctification, education, or giftedness and not in God, the authority of his Scriptures, the power of the gospel message, or the finished work of Jesus Christ. I’m very thankful to Thabiti for his meditation on these points.
I’m lazy. Straight up lazy. Kevin rebuked me in his sermon. “It’s harder to work 40-50 hours a week than it is to work 80.” That’s because we don’t fully focus and do things in longer times than necessary. People compliment pastors on their workaholism (check this resource I listened to on my flight home which was really helpful). Part of it is idolatry and the other part is laziness which extends how long it takes to do something. We’re lazy, distracted, and make excuses. Well, I do. I repented of this and look forward to God’s grace to change me as I put forth more intentionality and effort.
I want to memorize Scripture again. I need to continue to work on the book of James, then the book of Romans. My discipline has fallen off. I need to get back into the discipline of weekly fighter verses as well. Does anyone want to partner together to do it? John Piper and David Platt’s example of memorizing Scripture encourages me.
CrossView needs to mobilize for world missions. The message that God is sovereign over everything and the implication that this empowers us to risk our lives and die for the spread of the gospel to all ethnic people groups (EPGs) was powerfully preached by Dave Platt. It was a blessing to hear God’s Spirit free me from my fear of dying and leaving behind 3 young kids and a wife. I’ve been talking to Mike from the International Mission Board and thinking for a while how to keep CrossView globally invested. I feared if I went on a trip to dangerous places to mobilize our church and bless the EPGs, I might get killed on a short term trip. I thought, what a waste! But I was rebuked by the sermon.
We pray for the nations on Sundays, we give to the cooperative program, and I preach once a year in December on world missions and the need to be part of the great commission reaching all EPGs. I have an idea of where our church should focus our efforts and resources, but they are still in the infant stage. I like the idea of adopting a people group, but I’d like our church to invest a bit more than money and prayer. During the message I felt like I lost my way regarding the big picture. I read Let the Nations Be Glad! by John Piper about a decade ago and it rocked my world and infused in me a desire to be intentionally engaged, with my church, in reaching some unreached EPG. I resolved that since I’m not going to be a frontier missionary to an unreached EPG full-time, I’ll devote my life to mobilizing a church in the U.S. towards one and be a part of a sending church. In planting and trying to not fold as a small church in Los Angeles, I’ve forgotten the big picture. I’m not sure we’ll make major moves now, but I want to as soon as we’re established. This means I must be planting seeds of truth and mission now so that when we’re established we’ll be in position to move.
Preaching at my local church is 10,000 times more important than preaching at a big conference. Not that I preached at a big conference. But the allure of the evangelical, young-restless-reformed evangelical culture, was alive and well in my heart at the conference. It’s because I’m drawn away and enticed by my own evil desires (James 1:14) taking good gifts of God and distorting them for self-centered ambitions. I feel (and want to remind myself of) the privilege of pastoring 33 souls that I will have to give an account to the Lord Jesus for. I have not done an excellent job with them and there is much room for growth in my pastoral ministry. It’s important that my energies and attention is focused on my family and my church family more than anything else, including LASBA, SBC, Send LA, and TGCLA.
It was a blessing to see old friends from The Master’s College, Capitol Hill Baptist Church, and others I’ve met along the Way. I’m really bad at keeping in touch with my friends who were former interns at CHBC. I was glad to see some members of the church who remembered me! I even forgot one brother’s name (sorry Trevor if you’re reading this!). I need to keep people updated with our ministry and keep connected and encouraging those who’ve invested in my life. What a gift from God! I’m so bad at cultivating relationships with those outside my immediate vicinity, to my own detriment.