“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me”.
Galatians 2:20

Dear NCC family and friends,

Like many of you, the change of the year has allowed me occasion for some writing and personal reflection.  The last year was a very trying one for everyone and there is very little indication that this year will be all that different.  As followers of Jesus, one question we may want to ask ourselves is what lessons could we learn  and what helpful wisdom is there to gain from all that God has allowed us to experience in 2021.

Though we may not always know or understand what God is doing or how He is working, we can say with a degree of certainty that God is always seeking to communicate Himself to us. (John 5:17).  And in particular, He longs to express His heart to those whom He has purchased with the precious blood of His Son, Jesus.  Sadly, God is not always able to secure a willing audience.  The heartbreaking image of the glorious Christ standing outside of His church and seeking acknowledgment and entrance could very well be the sad reality existing in our generation (Rev. .3:20).  We have been  a church of unparalleled innovation and technology.  We have been the citadel for sound biblical doctrine and Christian missions.  Much like the church in Laodicea, we could rationally make the claim that we are rich and wealthy and have need for nothing.  When in reality, the challenges of the past year have only proved that we are indeed wretched and pitiful and poor and blind and naked (Rev. 3:17).

What is the Spirit of God saying to the church today?

I wonder if God in His divine providence would cause us to be keenly aware of our spiritual weakness apart from Him.  I have been studying the life of one John Hyde, missionary to India. I highly recommend reading on this unique man of prayer.   And one his very insightful observations truly caught my attention.  This is what he said:

“Is the Holy Spirit first in your pulpits, pastors? Do you consciously put Him in front and keep yourselves behind Him, when preaching? Teachers, when you are asked hard questions do you ask His aid as a witness of all Christ’s life? He alone was a witness of the incarnation, the miracles, the death and the resurrection of Christ. So He is the only witness!”

I realize this statement is addressed to ministry leaders.  But does it not expose the common tendency of self-reliance on the part of us all?  We place faith in our giftedness, in our resources, in our abilities to solve problems as they arise.  We’re doers and go-getters. We’re explorers and conquerors.  We believe we can accomplish anything we put our minds to…until we realize otherwise.   Has God not revealed our utter weakness apart from Him?   Indeed, God is often pleased to use the staffs in our hands.  But it is only in response to our having surrendered those tools in our possession wholly to Him.  I would agree with Hyde’s observation here.  God is in essence the only ministry worker..  It is God the Holy Spirit who gives holy conviction to our words and brings a sinner to repentance.  It is God the Holy Spirit who produces fervent, effectual prayer.  It is God the Holy Spirit who overall gives the power to be witnesses to the Second Person of the Trinity.

And that power He gives is secured by one means—prayer.

I believe with my whole heart that God is calling His church back to the ministry of prayer.  We have given lip-service to its importance for far too long.  We must commit to it.  We must insist upon it.  We must tarry long in it until we are gracefully broken of all Self-reliance and all that remains is the life of Christ.

Pastor Mark