Parkway Bible Church Blog

Why blog, when there are so many out there? For you? For us? In a culture such as ours?

This is a space where our leaders have an opportunity to share their thoughts on Christianity, Church, and Culture with content that is theologically helpful, accurate, and compelling, but equally important with a humble, gracious, and hopeful tone. We welcome you to read and comment.

We Have as Much of God as We Want to Have
We Have as Much of God as We Want to Have

Parkway Bible Church • January 31, 2022

I was listening to an A.W. Tozer sermon a couple of weeks ago and he made a statement that brought conviction and resonated with me, “We have as much of God as we want to have.” His statement is a truth that I like to hide from. It is uncomfortable for me to think of all the religious posturings to the contrary. The depth and closeness of my fellowship with God are functions of my lack of desire. 

 

Christ promises that if we seek him we will find him (Mathew 7:7). The writer of Proverbs promises that we will find the knowledge of God if we seek it as hidden treasure (Proverbs 2:1-7). The prophet Jeremiah tells the children of Israel that they will find God if they seek him with their whole heart (Jeremiah 29:13). Christ says that pursuit of God and his kingdom is like a man who sells everything for the field that has treasure (Mathew 13:44-46). Either scripture is false or there is a treasure to be found and the finding is dependent on the searching. 

 

I’m afraid that for me, and too many of us, our treasure hunt looks more like a weekend hobby rather than an all-consuming obsession. Deep down, I don’t think many of us can argue too persistently or object too strenuously that our “finding” is not commensurate to our “seeking.” We get what we pay for. We rarely hear the voice of God because we rarely seek it.

 

Mission: Our Purpose is to Know God 

 

Were we really intended for that kind of knowing? A hearing and seeing relationship that includes us speaking to God and God speaking to us? I think Christ answers that question pretty definitely as he is preparing to go to the cross. He prays for his disciples, and John records what he said. Christ says he has been given eternal life to all those the Father gave him (John 17:2). And this He says is eternal life, to know God (John 17:3). His prayer is not just for those around him, but for all people that would believe in him through their words (John 17:20). Finally, he ends his prayer by asking that the Father show us His glory (John 17:24). 

 

But maybe this is more of a theoretical positional statement of coming to a saving knowledge of God rather than a continuous personal fellowship. What does Paul, the man caught up to the third heaven, who spoke with God, and whom the demons feared say? He says that forgetting the things behind he presses towards the mark of the high calling of Jesus Christ (Philippians 3:14). What is this calling? It is to know Christ, the power of his resurrection, the fellowship of his suffering, and the conformity with his death (Philippians 3:10). To quote Tozer, Paul sought, found, and sought again. 

 

Means: We’ve Been Given the Holy Spirit to Enable Us to Know God

 

But is this even possible? It is our purpose to know God that we've been given the Holy Spirit? God’s spirit dwells within us so that we can know Him and fellowship with Him even after Jesus ascended into heaven. It is BETTER, Christ says, that I go away because the spirit will come, and he will guide you into all truth (John 16:7-15). Christ says that the spirit would show us Christ and all the Father has for us (John 16:13-15). 

 

However, this is not automatic, the spirit can be quenched (I Thessalonians 5:19), eyes can be darkened (Ephesians 4:18), ears can be dulled (Hebrews 5:11), but again, on the positive side, we must seek the kingdom of God (Luke 12:31); for those that seek, find (Luke 11:9). The implication is if you do not seek him, you will not find him.

 

Misery: The Misery of the Soul is God’s Way of Sharpening Our Appetite for Him

 

As the hymn writer says, we are creatures, “prone to wander, prone to leave the God I love”. God places us here in this world with our jobs, stresses, pains, toils, and heartbreak to continually turn our wandering hearts back to gaze on Christ. Paul talks at length about how God uses these things to bring our focus back to himself. “Count it all joy,” James says about these trials because that is what draws us back to Christ (James 1:2). The author of Hebrews tells us that it is the discipline of the Lord through difficulties in our lives that produces righteousness in us (Hebrews 12:1-17). And as we gaze upon the Lord we are changed from glory to glory (II Cor 3:18).  

 

I’m afraid that rather than letting our struggles and difficulties whet our appetite for the Lord and draw us into more prayer, more fasting, more longing, we do anything we can to make ourselves feel better. We tell ourselves we don’t need to hear the Lord but follow our hearts and desires. We pray for deliverance and healing; to be content and happy. These are all fine secondary goods, but God has a much greater good for you. God has lit the fires in your life to shake you out of complacency and in his mercy, makes you miserable for him. He desires to suit you for heaven and show you his glory, but instead, we just want to keep playing with our “mud pies,” as CS Lewis describes it. We are satisfied with sex, wealth, and power when the God of the universe stands in front of us. 

 

There is a song we sing at Parkway. 

 

All of creation

All of the earth

Make straight a highway

A path for the Lord

Jesus is coming soon

 

Call back the sinner

Wake up the saint

Let every nation shout of Your fame

Jesus is coming soon

 

Like a bride waiting for her groom

We'll be at Church ready for You

Every heart longing for our King

We sing "even so come"

Lord Jesus, come 

Even so, come

Lord Jesus, come

 

Does your heart sing, "Come Lord Jesus?" We have as much of the Lord as we truly desire. 

 

I pray God makes you miserable without his presence. I pray that the longing is so intense that everything else in life feels bland and meaningless. I pray you cannot sit down to watch a movie without getting up to ask God to show you his presence. I pray you cannot sit down to eat a meal without asking to see His face. May God make you miserable so that you draw into his presence. Then may God’s intoxicating presence and his overwhelming nearness raise you to that third heaven so you can say with Paul, “it’s better that I go be with the Lord.” 

 


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WHY A PARKWAY BLOG?
WHY A PARKWAY BLOG?

Parkway Bible Church • January 04, 2022

When I first heard of people writing something called a “blog” for everyone in the world to read, I thought, “how narcissistic” and “how foolish” to spill your guts for all the world to read. Beyond the hubris, it felt dangerous to open yourself up to vicious critiques from less than kind people. I know the Spirit reminds us that “God has put all things under Christ’s feet and gave him as head over all things to the church” (Eph. 1:22), but I felt our American culture shifting under my feet, and it seemed unsafe to share ideas and opinions even if true. As I felt the Judeo-Christian net that once encircled much of Western culture being pulled away, I struggled with how to respond. Initially, I resonated with Rod Dreher’s book, The Benedict Option, which suggested the culture has shifted too far; it is best to preserve Christianity by withdrawing into the church community as St. Benedict did in the fourth century and form little cloisters. However, I was left with the nagging feeling that I was neglecting to love my neighbor as myself. So, I began to modify my thinking. I began keeping my mouth shut about the shifting culture as much as possible while being faithful to demonstrate Christ through love to my neighbor (when in my neighborhood), my family (when in my family), and my church (when in my church). Then I read Erwin Lutzer’s book, We Will Not Be Silenced: Responding Courageously to Our Culture's Assault on ChristianityI felt convicted that to be silent is not only cowardly but unloving to my neighbor who needs the hope-filled good news that God offers a flourishing life to those who accept his provision of salvation in Christ through the total forgiveness of sin and shame. All of this coalesced in my mind when Elyssa Pinkard suggested that Parkway host a blog on its website in conjunction with hearing Darrell L. Bock lecture on his book, Cultural Intelligence, at a pastor’s lunch hosted by the C.S. Lewis Institute

I have slowly come to realize that in any culture, but especially in today’s society, silence is not an option, words matter. The church has a responsibility to our society to not only offer a way to live a flourishing life now but forever in the world to come! So, with a fair amount of trepidation, I have taken Elyssa’s suggestion to join the often narcissistic and perhaps even at times, foolish, community of bloggers. However, perhaps more for my protection, along with myself, this blog will also be authored by Parkway's Elders and Deacons. I hope to follow Darrell Bock’s lead by giving thoughtful members and our leaders an opportunity to write on Christianity, Church, and Culture with content that is theologically helpful, accurate, and compelling, but equally important with a tone that is humble, gracious, and hopeful. 

Perhaps the greatest lesson I have learned by watching the tectonic plates of ideas clash in our culture is that leadership is through words. Parkway needs to lead by writing. Having a blog will help us lead in many ways, but several immediately come to mind.

First, I am excited about the possibility of a larger audience hearing from our leadership on issues of Christianity, Church, and Culture. For our size, Parkway has been unusually blessed with intellectually gifted men and women who can raise the bar on what my friend often laments as “stupidity in the church.” They have much to offer the universal church of Jesus Christ.

Second, it will provide some explanations as to why Christianity is the better solution including salvation in Christ as the ultimate hope for our culture to the many ills that plague our modern society. I have slowly come to realize that the church needs to not just huddle up with the truth but should engage our culture with the truth. It is our moral obligation to do justice and love mercy by helping people live their very best life possible. We must not be silent about the hope that Christ provides for human flourishing. When individuals or whole societies reject that hope, we have an ethical and moral obligation to warn of the risks of allowing the evils within to overwhelm and overrun even our very best self. The combination of the world ruled by an unchristian democracy, our fleshly desires that put self above our neighbor, and the devil that seeks to steal and kill will eventually destroy any society.

Third, I hope our blog will provide some clarity to our attendees and members about Parkway’s identity, who we are, and how we think as church leaders. Parkway generally struggles with the identity of being small. I hope that our leaders will help to change that identity or rather, see that we are so much more than just small. I believe there is a powerful DNA that lies below the outward surface. I don’t think we have yet understood our DNA. The more we write, the more our DNA will become evident. Writing will not only inform but even help form our DNA.

Fourth, and relatedly, I believe there is a great sorting of the church occurring in our time. More people are leaving church altogether or shifting to another church than I have ever seen in my lifetime—maybe even in the history of the church in America. I don’t have time here to get into all the reasons for this great migration, but I see it happening. I hear pastors and friends all over the country who tell me it is happening because of views on politics, covid, and justice. Perhaps time will tell if this sorting is healthy or unhealthy. However, I hope our blog will help Christians in our area who are looking for a particular kind of church anchored in teaching the Word of God as it was written, thought by thought, paragraph by paragraph, book by book, know who we are, and stay because of who we are. Our area is a naturally transient area. Our blog will provide more visibility to Christians that God wants to move into our church. That, plus the necessary sorting of the church means that our small church needs to be heard. We need to get our voice out to the public because I believe our church, though small, is actually what many Christians need whether they know it or not. 

Finally, to current and future readers, thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I am truly humbled that you would take time out of your day to read our musings. We hope to write only every 6 weeks or so and not overwhelm you with yet another blog. My prayer is that as you read, you would read it in the same spirit that we hope to write it—with grace and humility. Perhaps it is best to read it with the words of the Holy Spirit in mind:


1 Corinthians 13:4–13 (ESV)

Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It

does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at

wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now, we see in a mirror dimly but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.



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