Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Bible Studies

It's rarely fun when things don't go the way you hope they will. However, it often exposes idols. Our pride, our motivation, our worries, etc. Our recent Bible Study debacle has been no exception.

 It started with me (Stephen) choosing to have our study at a certain local pub that said we could have a study there for free. I thought I had made it clear that I would be advertising for the study (how else will people know to show up?). I also thought the pub was okay with this. Turns out I was wrong. After running an ad in the paper, putting up posters, and handing out flyers I received a call from the pub. They kindly asked me to remove all advertising that had their name on it because someone had complained. At the time I was really upset that I would no longer be able to tell people where the study was (in retrospect, I should have been more clear with them about my desire to advertise using their name). I decided that I would continue to show up at the pub on Monday evenings in case someone were to randomly show up for the study. As the weeks went by and no one came I became more irritated and down every Monday as it became clearer and clearer that our first Bible Study was well and truly a failure. While the Bible Study did turn out to be a failure from a standpoint of anyone showing up it did expose an issue that I was not seeing in myself, pride.

How many of us find our worth in our performance? While most of us (I hope all) would surely agree that we are saved by grace apart from good works how many of us functionally are trying to earn our way to heaven or in my case trying to earn the approval of men? This is exactly what God exposed in my heart through the failure of this study. I really do love Jesus and I really do want to see people in Galway come to know Him; however, when the study failed the thing I was most concerned about was what will our supporters think? Riding in to the pub on what should have been the final night of the study my idol was exposed. I kept having the line of one of my favorite songs repeating in my thoughts, "I am satisfied in You". I realized how pathetic I was being. My uneasiness wasn't for the lost of Galway but instead was wondering what others would think of me since I had failed. I repented right then in the car! You guys are all great supporters both of this ministry and of Alisa and I on a personal level. We are so grateful to you all! I am sorry I was so prideful.

I want my satisfaction, my worth, and my salvation to be in Christ. This is the beauty of the Gospel! Apart from Christ my wandering heart will always search for satisfaction in places it can't be found, my prideful heart will always seek to find worth by judging myself against others, and my religious heart will always try and work my way to the salvation I desire. Yet all of these will ultimately lead to despair. This is why Paul says that in Christ we are truly free. The Gospel frees us from the roller coaster of an idolatrous life to a life of fulfillment found only in Christ. When we realize nothing else can give true satisfaction or worth and we cannot earn salvation we are then freed to live a life of significance for Christ. He is our salvation! Be satisfied in Him!

Thankfully, I am getting a second chance. Starting Monday and Tuesday we are beginning two new Bible Studies, one in a pub and one in a hotel. Please pray for the people of Galway and for Alisa and I. We are broken and sinful people just like you. Succeed or fail, Christ is my satisfaction. May he be made famous in Galway and all over the world!

8 comments:

  1. I appreciate your transparency in this. Praying for the success of these upcoming Bible studies in making Him famous.

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    1. Thanks for the prayers. We are really hoping these go much better. I guess really it can only go up from the last Bible Study, haha.

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  2. You can't succeed if you don't fail. You tried, it didn't work, and you learned something. That is awesome.

    You are always in our thoughts and prayers.

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    1. Thanks for the encouragement Allen! We really appreciate the prayers.

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  3. God has been bringing me through this realization as well. We place such a burden on ourselves when we fall into this trap. This is the burden that Jesus frees us from when he says that "My yoke is easy and my burden is light" -Mark 11:30.

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    1. Thanks for the reply Aaron! That verse is certainly one we need to keep at the fore of our minds. Sorry I am just now responding to your comment.

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  4. Ok. I can see why this can happen. What puzzles me is why you are not partnering with other Christians in Galway. Surely there are other churches and Christians to receive advise on regarding this sort of experience. There is over a thousand years of Christian exposure in Ireland so why are you not using people on the ground to consult with. I am sure the churches in Galway would love your involvement. Are you only concerned about setting up you own 'branch' of church?

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    1. Anonymous,
      Thanks for visiting our blog. I appreciate your concern for unity in the body of Christ as well as proper contextualization in the culture you are living and I share your sentiment.

      For the first year and a half we were in Ireland we worked with Drogheda Presbyterian Church in Drogheda (we are not Presbyterian) so that we could get used to living in Ireland and working within the Irish Church context. It has also been great to have their partnership and friendship. Their knowledge along with the experience we gained there has been invaluable. Since before moving to Galway we have been trying to make relationships with the churches in the city. We have found them to be incredibly friendly and helpful. They have made themselves available to us and we have tried to take advantage of that as much as possible. We genuinely love the other churches in the city and see any work we do involving their insight and friendship. If there are any other questions you have about our ministry feel free to email me at stephen@stephenandalisa.net I would be happy to respond.
      - Stephen

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