Pastoral Letter | Be Strong in the Lord
Dearest Christ Church Family,
The times in which we live make it hard to be strong. Are you are feeling weak and anxious at the start of this new year? You are not alone. Many are feeling it. The Pandemic, now entering its third year, is wearing people down, not least because of the politically divisive and polarizing response of our elected leaders, the media, and society in general. People are physically and emotionally drained by it all. Fear and anger have gripped our culture, and addiction to our screens doesn’t help. Churches are fracturing as well over issues related to public health mandates, lower “in person” attendance, side B gay Christianity, and social justice. These issues have touched many churches in our own denomination.
The question is, how can we, at Christ Church, be strong and grow spiritually in 2022 with these and other major challenges before us? The answer is found in God’s Word:
“Be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might” (Eph. 6:10).
That’s right, be strong in the strength of Christ. Walk not in your own strength, but in the power and might of the Holy Spirit. Relinquish any notion that you can live the Christian life in your own strength and on your own terms. Remember what our Lord Jesus said, “Apart from me you can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5). Nothing! He is the vine and we are the branches. If we don’t want to wither, we must be strong in Him.
But how do we do that? How do we walk in the Lord’s strength? We must take full advantage of all the marvelous spiritual resources that Christ has given to us. Those resources include the means of grace in Lord’s Day morning and evening worship, purposeful Christian fellowship, prayer, discipleship, personal devotions, and family worship. We draw strength, comfort, and encouragement from the Lord when we attentively hear His Word read and preached, when we witness baptisms and partake of the Lord’s Supper, and when we boldly approach the throne of grace in prayer. We grow spiritually strong in community. We are the body of Christ, with many members. We need each other. It’s important to remember that in our day of increasing individualism and isolation.
Any brief survey of church history shows that the church has been through plenty of hard times. Indeed, think for a moment about the earliest days of the church. Do you remember our study of the book of Acts? The nascent church experienced heavy persecution from religious leaders, civic rulers, and angry crowds. Times were extremely difficult for Christians. But through it all Christ was with His redeemed people. He supplied them with abundant strength so that they would be his courageous witnesses in a dark and unbelieving world. Christ was building His church through the preaching of the gospel, and no amount of persecution could stop him. The same remains true today. Not one of the elect will be lost. Therefore, we must not lose heart.
Christ Church, let us view these challenging days as an opportunity for spiritual growth and witness. Let’s not be discouraged. God is on our side. Let’s spend less time on our screens this year listening to the rantings of the world and being drawn in by mindless entertainment. Rather, let’s spend more thoughtful time in the Word, on our knees in prayer, and with one another in fellowship. Have you thought about who you are going to invite to the Friendship Sunday fellowship meal on January 23rd? So many are walking in darkness. So many need the Lord. So many are looking for answers to life’s deepest questions. Will you reach out to them?
As the new year begins, I’m excited to jump back into my expositional series on Paul’s magisterial epistle to the Romans. Also, I will once again pick up my Lord’s Day evening series on the Ten Commandments. Will you renew your commitment to morning and evening worship on the Lord’s Day? And will you join us every Lord’s Day for congregational prayer at 8:50 a.m. and Sunday school at 9:30 a.m.? Remember, being strong in the Lord means partaking of the spiritually nourishing means that our Good Shepherd has ordained for His flock.
I want to remind you that this month Miss Rachael McIntosh will begin serving as Christ Church’s full-time Director of Media and Communications. How exciting! Rachael is a newly minted graduate of the University of South Carolina, and has worked for First Presbyterian Church in Columbia for the past two years. Her first official Sunday is on January 16th. Let’s make sure to pray for Rachael, and give her a very warm Christ Church welcome!
Please commit to pray for our congregation. Many are sick with the new Covid variant. Pray especially for the numerous expectant mothers. Pray for the nine men training for ordained office at Christ Church. They are in the middle of a five month training period. Pray for the Lord’s grace and wisdom in the process. Also, pray for the Presbyterian Church in America. We are in a critical time. This month most of the remainder of the presbyteries will vote on Overtures 23 and 37. If they do not pass, it will not bode well for the future health and unity of our denomination.
Dearest member or regular attender of Christ Church— Don’t be discouraged! Don’t be fearful. The Lord is on your side. God’s grace is sufficient for you in 2022. May the Lord be your wisdom and strength. There is so much to be thankful for, and so much to joyfully anticipate. Together, let’s look forward to a wonderful new year in communion with God and each other.
“Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Mt. 6:33).
Your Pastor, Servant, and Friend,