MY FINAL SERMONS on “Celebrating Change” and “Life Lessons (Retirement Service” are available on Facebook if you want to see them. https://www.facebook.com/msbcdoylestown/
On June 26 I retired after being pastor of Main Street Baptist Church in Doylestown for 35 years. I’ve taken some time to look back at the main lessons God has taught me during that time. Here’s one:
Intimacy doesn’t come naturally or easily for me. It’s easier to hide behind my work and stay busy. However there has always been a deep desire in my heart to know God deeper, to really connect with Him in the fullest way possible. Early on in my ministry I made ‘intimacy’ with God my number one goal. Paul’s words to the Philippians (3:7-14) about wanting to “know” Jesus have taken root in my heart. I want to know Him, not just about Him!
As I look back on my life I can see God slowly but surely bringing that about in my life. He has used my wife and children to teach me about emotional intimacy. It takes time to develop real intimacy. That is true of any relationship, including our relationship with God. There is a big price to pay for it: time, vulnerability and humility are just a few.
Putting up walls, playing it safe, keeping others and God at a safe distance – these are easy and come naturally to us. We learn how to pretend and fake for the sake of others. That’s an occupational hazard for all Christians.
Dallas Willard once said, “The greatest enemy of intimacy with God is service for God.” It’s so easy to get wrapped up in producing more and more. We start seeing others and even God in terms of how they can help us accomplish more in life. Working with God and others to achieve a common goal is safe and predictable. Men especially, who are naturally production oriented and thrive on challenges and competition, can easily replace relationship to God with service for God.
I’ve found, though, that nothing substitutes for intimacy with God. The time spent in prayer and worship, when His Spirit ministers to me, can become times of sweet fellowship which I desire more than anything else. My time spent with Him can’t just be about work-related issues (what to do when, how, etc.). It must be about relationship – my need for Him, my love for Him and His love for me, my worship of Him, etc. It’s the same in marriage. Relationships don’t grow when communication is just about how to more efficiently function together towards a common goal. Relationships grow when we listen to our mates, speak from our hearts, share our love and appreciation of them and let them love us in return.
Intimacy doesn’t just ‘happen.’ It takes work, it takes making it a priority and it takes putting it before programs and production. Without it life is empty. Without it we just go through the motions. Without it we eventually burn out or find ourselves pursuing some sinful substitute. For guys pornography often becomes a substitute for real intimacy. For girls it can be romance novels (even Christian ones), TV programs or movies.
There is no simple formula for intimacy. It has to be something you desire more than anything else or it won’t happen. As I said, it takes time, vulnerability and humility. But it is definitely worth it. It’s what heaven will be all about! It’s a taste of heaven on earth now. Sure, we’ll be serving God in heaven, but it will be based on true intimacy with Him. Why wait until then when we can start experiencing it now? (July 25, 2016 Doylestown, PA)
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Deuteronomy 6:4-5 Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.
On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you say you are in your intimacy with your mate?
On a scale of 1 to 10, where would you say you are in your intimacy with God?
Honestly ask yourself what keeps your intimacy with God from growing. What roadblocks are in the way? What can you do about them?
INDIA UPDATE: Providing water wells is not part of the purpose of my non-profit (CTO) for we focus strictly on training pastors through conferences and books. However it is part of the purpose of Pastor Moses’ non-profit in India. Recently money for 4 new water wells was donated by CTO supporters (channeled through a non-profit in this country with whom we work very closely). The pictures last week, this week, and for the next coming weeks all are of those water well. It’s a privilege to be part of this special work.
PRAY FOR these ministries which provide much needed physical water for the people in India, and for our ministry which provides equally needed spiritual water for the people. We need about $15,000 more to cover the conference, travel and housing expenses for our 2017 trip. Pray God would provide what is needed for the final book as well – about $10,000. Thanks!