Category Archives: Charles Bridges
June 30, 2006
Hello friends and family,
Having a calling into pastoral ministry is a great blessing. It means meeting people that are likeminded from all over the country, and having the great honor of opening the Bible to others. It also means prioritizing the ministry over personal ambitions, and pursuing a God who pulls people from their comforts. For the past several years, our family has lived under the tremendous blessing of being drawn towards pastoral ministry in the advancement of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
About two years ago, we began pursuing the training options that would fit us for the tasks ahead. We looked at many options in our home city of Omaha, considered four separate seminaries from the West coast to the East coast, and finally explored other church-based ministries. After several years of emails, travel, conversations and prayer we have concluded that the best training suitable for our family is with Sovereign Grace Ministries based in Gaithersburg, Maryland. We have begun building a relationship with them and have gained tremendous wisdom in meeting with many of their leaders at the Together for the Gospel conference in Louisville this past April. After more emails, prayer, wisdom from national leaders and travel, we intend to begin our journey within Sovereign Grace Ministries at Sovereign Grace Fellowship, a wonderful church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We have spent time with the pastors there and our hearts have been knit together in the Gospel. We are excited about the direction of their church and its successful leadership training.
Today our home will officially be for sale in Omaha. Having been in this terrific city for most of our lives, we will be leaving family whom we love, a business we have developed, a church family that we love, the home we built ourselves and many friends we will miss dearly.
In amazing ways, the provisions of God have been especially tangible in the past 6 months. We fully trust that God will continue to provide. Our sovereign God is in control of all our situations and especially promises blessing when we are willing to hand over family, homes and lands for the Gospel (Luke 18:28-30). We have seen, as God works in our lives, that gain comes through loss. We would appreciate your prayers that our home would sell, that we would have joy in this process, and that God would provide a job in Minneapolis as a writer.
While we are seeking pastoral training, the light burdens we are called to bear and the faith in God’s provisions are no different than the burdens and faith expected in the lives of each Christian.
We are grateful for the investments so many of you have made in our lives in Omaha. We are thankful also for your patience as we have come to these conclusions. We look forward to the coming weeks and months as we step out in faith to a future we cannot yet see.
The following quote from A.W. Tozer has been especially powerful in this time of our lives:
Pseudo faith always arranges a way out to serve in case God fails. Real faith knows only one way and gladly allows itself to be stripped of any second way or makeshift substitutes. For true faith, it is either God or total collapse. And not since Adam first stood up on earth has God failed a single man or woman who trusted Him.
The man of pseudo faith will fight for his verbal creed but refuse flatly to allow himself to get into a predicament where his future must depend upon that creed being true. He always provides himself with secondary ways of escape so he will have a way out if the roof caves in.
The faith of Paul or Luther was a revolutionizing thing. It upset the whole life of the individual and made him into another person altogether. It laid hold on the life and brought it under obedience to Christ. It took up its cross and followed along after Jesus with no intention of going back. It said goodbye to its old friends as certainly as Elijah when he stepped into the fiery chariot and went away in the whirlwind. It had a finality about it … It realigned all life’s actions and brought them into accord with the will of God.
What we need very badly these days is a company of Christians who are prepared to trust God as completely now, as they must do at the last day. For each of us the time is surely coming when we shall have nothing but God! Health and wealth and friends and hiding places will all be swept away and we shall have only God. To the man of pseudo faith that is a terrifying thought, but to real faith it is one of the most comforting thoughts the heart can entertain.
It would be a tragedy indeed to come to the place where we have no other but God and find that we had not really been trusting God during the days or our earthly sojourn. It would be better to invite God now to remove every false trust, to disengage our hearts from all secret hiding places and to bring us out into the open where we can discover for ourselves whether we actually trust Him. This is a harsh cure for our troubles, it is a sure one! Gentler cures may be too weak to do the work. And time is running out on us.
In the name of our loving, faithful and sovereign God who justifies His enemies and then takes pleasure in His children (Ps. 149:4),
P.S. We are aware that God’s sovereignty can override our own plans and wishes. Commenting on Proverbs 16:9, Charles Bridges writes, “As rational agents we think, consult, act freely. As dependent agents, the Lord exercises His own power in permitting, overruling, or furthering our acts. Thus man proposes; God disposes.” We are all too aware that God can sometimes dispose what we have proposed !
“Apprehensions of pride – the sin of young ministers – working in my heart, filled me with inexpressible bitterness and confusion before the Lord. I found, that, when I met with enlargement [success] in prayer or preaching, or answered a question readily and suitably, I was apt to applaud myself in my own mind. I affected pre-eminence above what belonged to my age or worth. I therefore endeavored to take a view of my pride – as the very image of the Devil, contrary to the grace and image of Christ – as an offense against God, and grieving of his Spirit – as the most unreasonable folly and madness for one, who had nothing singularly excellent, and who had a nature so corrupt – as infinitely dangerous, and ready to provoke God to deprive me of my capacities and opportunities. I therefore resolved to carry my distempered heart to be cured by Jesus Christ, that all-sufficient Physician – to watch against my pride – to study much the nature and aggravations of it, and the excellence of the contrary grace.”
Cotton Mather quoted by Charles Bridges in The Christian Ministry (Banner of Truth: 1830/2001), p. 152.