Conversions and Fruit in the Church
These past couple months have been both intense and fruitful for the kingdom of Christ. After the baptisms that we had in September and October, we began to disciple a group of nine new believers that are now preparing for baptism and membership in the church. The Lord has been very good to us and we are happy to begin to shepherd these people in the fundamental truths of the gospel.
As I mentioned in a previous report, we’ve begun to meet with a group of young adults to study the doctrines that make up the gospel. The Lord has blessed our times together, and several of the young adults that were visiting during those meetings have been converted. Also, many of the church members have grown in personal holiness through the meetings and have a stronger desire to share the gospel with others.
In light of the many demands of pastoral ministry, I am learning the importance of separating or distinguishing between the important and the urgent. If this task were a class, I don’t think I would have passed it up to this point in ministry, and I continue to make a lot of adjustments. More than anything I have seen the need to adjust my personal daily priorities.
During the past month and into the beginning of this month I have been attending to many urgent needs in our congregation, and to be sincere with you all, I have at times neglected the things that are most important: prayer and personal study of the Scriptures. Please, don’t misunderstand what I mean. It’s not that I’ve neglected them altogether, but what I mean is that because of other needs pressing in I’ve gone about these tasks half-heartedly at times, without really looking to have my heart stirred, to grow, to develop, or to deepen my understanding. I have failed to approach these areas as if I were in the midst of a war and needed them for survival.
One passage of the Scriptures that has brought conviction to my heart is Mark 1:35, 38:
“In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there…He said to them, ‘Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.’”
In the context, literally the needs were knocking on the door of the house where Jesus was staying. Still, Jesus arose early to pray and later sought out His disciples so that they could continue with Jesus’ preaching ministry in the surrounding regions.
In a book written by Sugel Michelen on preaching, he makes the following comment:
“We can almost imagine the tone of the reproach behind these words [Mark 1:37]: ‘The house is besieged by people full of problems, that demand attention, and You decide to depart in order to have a private time of devotion? What are we supposed to do with all of these people?’ The answer that Jesus gives is unequivocal and clear: ‘He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”’ Jesus could not allow the needs of the people to impede Him from fulfilling the ministry that the Father had entrusted to Him: preaching the gospel of the kingdom. That was His priority.” (De Parte de Dios y Delante de Dios, Sugel Michelen)
Both the passage of Scripture and the words of Sugel led me to recognize several truths about my own life, and to make a number of practical resolutions in my priorities.
What followed during the rest of the month was a real test of the convictions I’d come to and the resolutions I’d made. The work of the ministry and the amount of urgent needs increased, but the Lord gave me grace not to lose sight of the priorities.