My Birthday 2009

Today,  I am officially one year older.  Yeah, it’s my birthday.  My awesome wife came through again and gave me a great gift.  Her gift is my enrollment in a class: Pastoral Theology with Tom Ascol.  I pray this will be a gift that will keep on giving.  More on this later as I give myself an annual check up.  (Okay, so it’s really more than just annual.)

I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting lately.  There’s a problem though.  The problem is that much of the reflection was simply me staring back at myself.  Why is that a problem?  The reflecting should have some back showing Jesus and His cross.  I was increasing when I should have been decreasing.

The more I increased the more my frustration also increased.  This only makes sense, right?  I was only reflecting the sinner that I am.  Where’s the solution in that?  After all, I do no one around me, self included, any favors turning myself from a Christian into a Markian.  I’ve been Mark (a Markian) most of my life so why revert to that image?  As I’m trying to figure out what God might have for me in the future, I’m so focused on me that I can’t even discern the present.  Then along comes my beautiful helper, my wife, to get me back in focus.

I like to call my wife my “other conscience.”  She loves me so much that she doesn’t pull any punches with me.  As I am in this self-centered, prideful spiritual funk she’s there for me.  The first things she lovingly says, point blank, is, “You’re not trusting God.”  See, she and I are both praying for whether or not the Lord is calling me to the ministry in some capacity.  I was feeling like time was running out.  I’ve got to do this yesterday!  Or maybe tomorrow!  But this is simply not true and I know it.  Time is not running out and it’s not even in my control anyways.  The Lord could have put me in a ministry yesterday and then take me home today.  Or put me in today and take me home tomorrow.  Or I could live to be 100, etc.  It’s just not about me.

However, the Lord has put me where I am today.  Today is where I need to serve Him and let Him take care of tomorrow.  Today, God gave me a birthday present through my loving wife.  Through my wife’s love and in her wisdom she gave me this class that will help discern God’s will through the biblical counsel of wise men for both today and tomorrow.  God has also give me to a pastor who is willing to help work through all of this with me.

Today’s daily devotion by Spurgeon providentially fits in well.

Faith’s Check Book, Daily Entry by C. H. Spurgeon.

February 23
Unbroken Fellowship Essential

lf ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. (John 15:7)

Of necessity we must be in Christ to live unto Him, and we must abide in Him to be able to claim the largesse of this promise from Him. To abide in Jesus is never to quit Him for another love or another object, but to remain in living, loving, conscious, willing union with Him. The branch is not only ever near the stem but ever receiving life and fruitfulness horn it. All true believers abide in Christ in a sense; but there is a higher meaning, and this we must know before we can gain unlimited power at the throne. “Ask what ye will” is for Enochs who walk with God, for Johns who lie in the Lord’s bosom, for those whose union with Christ leads to constant communion.

The heart must remain in love, the mind must be rooted in faith, the hope must be cemented to the Word, the whole man must be joined unto the Lord, or else it would be dangerous to trust us with power in prayer. The carte blanche can only be given to one whose very life is, “Not I, but Christ liveth in me.” O you who break your fellowship, what power you lose! If you would be mighty in your pleadings, the Lord Himself must abide in you, and you in Him.

And to that…Amen!

I thank the Lord for giving me another year of life.  I don’t know what He has in store for me, but I do know Who.  I know Who is faithful today and tomorrow.  That Who is Jesus Christ.  In the most basic terms, as long as I continue to seek Jesus Christ the what will fall into place.

His will be done…

Mark

p.s. Lord willing, I hope to give some insight into the Pastoral Theology class as I move along and as time permits.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Mary Magdaline February 23, 2009 at 1:22 pm

Happy Birthday honey! I’m always glad to hear I’ve pointed you back to God. I often wish I had all of the answers for you and that the Holy Spirit would give me all of the words to give you the answers you seek. Instead, sometimes He just gives me the wisdom that I need to send you to Godly men for some of those answers. For your birthday God gifted me another year with you. The Great Matchmaker is a generous and loving God. Yet he calls us to put ALL desires aside and follow His will. Yield to HIS will, and He will use you to glorify Himself. He is the greatest gift of all.

2 Nathan White February 23, 2009 at 10:57 pm

Brother-

I commend you for your brutally honest post, as well as encourage you that others around you likewise fall into these same ‘funks’! You said it: our wives are so good at pointing us back to the basics, the simplicity of our faith and the cross. Praise God for them, and for His grace towards you as you deal with these important crossroads.

I look forward to hearing about the class. The book list is absolutely excellent, trust me!

3 johnMark February 24, 2009 at 7:18 am

Nathan,

Thanks brother!

Mark

4 Jacob February 24, 2009 at 9:12 am

Happy Birthday Big Guy,

5 Darrin February 24, 2009 at 1:44 pm

Mark,
Always good to see the continued wrestling about how “It’s just not about me.”
What a marvelous scripture this is:
“But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.” -Acts 20:24
I think that well addresses some of what you are contemplating, in terms of self, life, ministry, etc.
And then the old quote from M’Cheyne:
“For every look at self take ten looks at Christ.”
Oh, that I might treasure and look upon Him more!

6 johnMark February 24, 2009 at 1:54 pm

Darrin,

Thank you for your very timely and wise comment.

Mark

7 James February 24, 2009 at 9:56 pm

Happy (belated) Birthday, Mark!

8 johnMark February 24, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Thank you, Rev!

.

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