Nothing earth shattering has happened since I last posted but the Lord has focused me on what really matters, loving Him. That means willingly and eagerly obeying Him in all that we say, do, and think. That is a high calling and that involves loving people. It means showing kindness to the person in church that everyone seems to avoid. It means giving it everything I have to use my spiritual gifts even if I have never been discipled in using my gifts. It means valuing what every brother and sister in the Lord brings. It means faithfully going out and reaching the lost with the gospel. It can mean any number of things. I just need to be focused on pleasing the Lord Jesus and not even think about how others are judging me...
By the Lord's grace I have been given the opportunity to go with a few others in the church to evangelize a nearby apartment complex. We have some interesting conversations ranging from a man who asked about aliens from space to a genius woman who preferred her liberal Presbyterian church to a woman that listened to the entire gospel message, which included a little instruction about the Trinity, who had several Jehovah's Witnesses in her family. In all those efforts, no one came to church, but that should not deter us from trying to reach people with the gospel.
Also by the Lord's grace I have endeavored to keep on studying Matthew's gospel and writing a Bible study/commentary on it with the hope that it will be used for an actual Bible study. I have never been mentored by anyone to accomplish such a feat, but have been encouraged by a friend of mine recently to keep on studying. He also mentioned that it takes practice to become a good teacher. The idea is that it is important to keep at it. I also spoke with a few relatives who accomplished being accepted for missionary service by the International Mission Board recently and it made it clear to me that it is very difficult to become a missionary, but that should not deter anyone from serving the Lord with all their might anyway. All I can do is what the best of the opportunities He gives me and let Him be the judge of the results. It may not look like much is accomplished for Him but I believe it pleases Him to keep at it anyway.
Another thing that has happened is that my views concerning the spiritual gifts got the attention of the church elders. Two wanted to talk about it with me and my husband, since my husband was nominated to become a deacon. They recommended that I attend a Bible study on the spiritual gifts that one of the two elders was doing. I agreed wanting to be cordial and because I wanted to know more about what the PCA believes on that. The pastor never spoke to me directly about it but decided to indirectly put me down (or so I think) in a Sunday school class and a sermon. About two months ago he said something about me to someone who was talking to me after a Sunday service. He said, "Stephanie just wants to be needed". I replied, "Don't we all?" He just laughed and walked off. I am tempted to think he looks down on me. Perhaps he does not but I no longer trust that he really has my best interest in mind anymore. That's quite different from what he told my parents when they visited a few months before that saying to them, "She's a leader."
Last week I heard in Sunday school a lesson on how the church offices are viewed. That was helpful because I finally was able to hear it straight from the pastor what the church teaches. Before, I had pieced it together from reformed sermons and online articles that were only peripherally related to the subject. I asked about it a year ago but he passed me off to someone who was not helpful and made me sound stupid to a group of women during a Bible study. Perhaps that was too much detail but it was a frustrating thing to get a straight answer.
I am beginning to suspect that some of the uber-Reformed Christians have pride issues that need to be dealt with. I cannot even trust that anyone would want to treat me like a living breathing person and talk to me directly even if they want to put me down. That being said, I still think that the pastor is generally a good pastor, but his faults are becoming more evident. One being that he tends to be callous to people that disagree with him. He is actually the best one I have had unless you count the youth pastor I had during the first few years of my Christian walk. I still want to think the best of him and his intentions but I am suspicious. It could be that he is so "doctrinally treated" that he does not realize that he is being unloving to anyone that does not fit the uber-Reformed mold doctrinally and think the same way that the uber-Reformed do. And good luck trying to talk with him about something theological if you do not use "reformed speak" and think on the same wavelength he does. Perhaps my questions baffled him but at the very least my great desire to reach the lost seems to be lost on him. But he is still someone to admire for his diligence in preaching and teaching the Word and attempting to get to know people in the church enough to relate to them.
With all that being said, my calling to "preach the Lord to everyone" is probably going to be viewed as invalid until the day I die and see my Lord. But when I stand before Him I know that I want to have served the Lord in a way that was no less diligent than if the calling were viewed as valid. That means loving and serving the Lord to the best of my ability even it will remain lost on everyone in the church until the day I die. That sounds depressing but it isn't if I just focus on my kind and gracious Savior who sees me and regards my service.