His hand is not shortened

So, it has been about two and a half years since I've last written here. It has been two and a half years of much change and transition in my life. Quite honestly, I have lacked the motivation to write here and have felt I didn't really have anything much worth saying. I had always viewed blogging as an extension of my pastoral ministry and a function of the overflow of study, and was never too huge a fan of theology blogs in general without connection to the church. So, the silence here has also been due to a question of identity of sorts.

The last two and half years I have lived life as a "normal" Christian, not as a pastor/missionary, and have been trying to learn what growth and putting Christ first in everything in "normal life" looks like. Not always successfully. I have been rather tempted in my downness to believe the "hand of the Lord is shortened" (Num. 11:23, Isa. 50:2). Is God really at work around/in me? Is God listening?

I long to have the reality of Ephesians 1:19 rooted more deeply in my heart, and to come true more consistently in my life:

Having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know...what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe 

Lord, forgive my jaded heart; your hand is not shortened, it does indeed save. It saved me! Help me to yield to and trust you through all of life, to see and savor your greatness above and throughout everything in life, and to share your greatness with those you place in my life. 

There is perhaps still room for reflection and writing on the "one thing necessary" from this persepective. And perhaps some of you may benefit from the process. We'll see where it goes...




Commending Them to God

Those who read this blog have probably already heard the news by now, but figure it is about time to say it in public. Long story short is that I will be stepping down from the pastoral ministry, having concluded over a long period of struggling that I am not yet fit to be in the pastoral role, finding myself lacking both a clear calling and a sufficient training. 

I came here to Taiwan to try to serve the church here, out of love for them upon hearing that they would be without a pastor--but not out of a response to the call of God. Even now, it is still this man-centered desire ("I can still do it!") that makes me want to continue and be there for them. Yet, if God has not called me here, then I ought not to be here. I also came without finishing a full seminary training and without sufficient time "learning the ropes" in practical ministry experience, with the result that I really am just not equipped to do the work here.  

I have decided with counsel that I am not suited for this, at least not at this juncture. We will see what God has prepared for the future. But if there is a next time, it will be approached more cautiously and preceded by completed training. I plan for now to return to EBCB as a normal member, work as a programmer, and grow as a Christian.

Many have wished I would have continued and persevered. Many are possibly shocked by this news. Hadn't I just said I was seeking to grow in faithfulness and perseverance? What made this decision easy and fast at the end was when things came into clear focus and I realized it was not an issue of perseverance, but of principle. While the struggles here were the occasion of me asking hard questions about whether I am fit here, they were not ultimately the cause. In the end, if I am doing this only because I want to help people, and not in obedience to God's call, and if I am not adequately trained, then I simply should not keep doing it. So that is the plan for now. 

Pastor John visited here this past weekend to talk to the church about how this decision affects them. They will be continuing (at least for the next 6 months) to meet together and pray together for God's provision of another pastor. Please pray with them as I will surely be doing. The great comfort to me at this time is that the Lord is my Shepherd, and the Lord is their Shepherd. It has been an amazing privilege to serve them and be used for the salvation of some and the spiritual growth of others. Yet, it is time for me to set this lofty position down for now and entrust them to God.

Acts 20:32 seem to be the right words to close with:

And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.

Now I get two more sermons to help prepare them to wait, and to prepare them to receive the next pastor who comes. Please pray I can invest as much as I can into them in these next two weeks. I will return to America on Oct. 31. Thank you for your faithful prayers on our behalf. Please keep them coming for the church.




Are You Ready to Listen?

Sunday morning is coming soon. Are you ready to hear the word of God? Listen to Spurgeon about the importance of preparing to listen to God's word:

We are told men ought not to preach without preparation. Granted. But we add, men ought not to hear without preparation. Which, do you think needs the most preparation, the sower or the ground? I would have the sower come with clean hands, but I would have the ground well-plowed and harrowed, well-turned over, and the clods broken before the seed comes in. It seems to me that there is more preparation needed by the ground than by the sower, more by the hearer than by the preacher.

Cited in Ken Ramey, Expository Listening, (Woodlands, Texas: Kress Biblical Resources, 2010), 34.


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Matt Hauck (郝柏昇)

A once enemy now son, forgiven and freed by Jesus' blood, adopted and called by grace for glory.   (more...)