THE NEXT THING
Dear Friend in Christ:
It’s hard to believe we’re already more than a full month into 2024. You’ve been in our hearts and prayers. What I’d like to do this month is to follow up on some thoughts we were developing in last month’s Pastoral Letter, “The One Thing,” and to give you a personal update on how my father, Charles Simpson, is doing. We are so thankful for your prayers in these days.
Our keynote Scripture last month was from Psalm 27. Let’s review:
“One thing I have desired of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:4-5).
This was David’s “one thing.” His chief desire was to dwell in the house of the Lord. Dwelling speaks of permanence; abiding, rather than flitting in and out of fellowship with the Lord, depending on our moods or circumstances. How do we dwell in God’s presence?
In Psalm 24, we read that only those with clean hands and hearts can “ascend the hill of the Lord;” only those who have not lifted up their souls to idols can enter into the Lord’s presence. In John 15, Jesus said that to abide in Him, we must keep His commands. He emphasized, “This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.” So, if dwelling (permanent abiding) in God’s presence is a priority, then this has ramifications for our mindset and behavior.
However, the only way we can effectively change our behavior is in the grace and power of the Holy Spirit. And the only way our past sins can be cleansed from our hearts and minds is by the mercy and blood of Jesus Christ. Receiving by faith what Jesus has done for us on the Cross cleanses us and grants us entrance into the presence of the Holy God. That is Good News!
In God’s house, David desires to “behold the beauty of the Lord” and to “inquire in His temple.” What is that like? How beautiful, how majestic, is the presence of God? How overwhelming is it when we consider Who He is, and what He has so graciously done for us? In beholding God’s beauty, we enter into thanksgiving, praise, and adoration before God. We are worshipping in the Holy Spirit … our spirits (hearts) entering into harmony with His Spirit.
The heart of a true worshipper is surrendered before the Lord, waiting on Him for His direction. Consider the scene in Isaiah 6, when the prophet humbles himself in repentance, is cleansed, hears God’s voice, and replies, “Here am I, Lord. Send me.” A heart that is humble and poised to respond in faith and obedience is a heart that will hear the voice of the Lord.
This is when the Spirit of revelation comes. We can “inquire” of the Lord as we worship in Spirit and in Truth; He has invited us to do so. His perspective comes and heals, adjusts, and broadens our own perspective. His glorious light obliterates the darkness and heals our blindness. We see and know things by the Holy Spirit that we could never see with our natural eyes or know with our natural mind.
Let me mention this briefly: our time of worship is never truly fulfilled until we have heard the voice of the Lord and done what He has directed us to do (see Psalm 95; Romans 12). Worship is not simply speaking to God but waiting expectantly for Him to speak to us … and being ready to walk it out.
Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount has been called “the Constitution and Bylaws of the Kingdom of God” (see Matthew 5-7). In one memorable passage, Jesus lays out our priorities:
“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (Matthew 6:31-33).
There is that word again: seek. It’s not a passive word. Seeking is an active, passionate pursuit. Derek Prince said that the difference between a “Prayer Meeting” and a “Seeking Meeting” is that in a prayer meeting, you say your prayers and then go home; in a seeking meeting, you don’t stop seeking until the Holy Spirit speaks. How much does it mean to you to have an encounter with the Living God? Is it a matter of life and death? Do we long for His presence and voice?
I hear many people quoting 2 Chronicles 7:14. It’s a wonderful verse and promise. Yet, it seems many mistake its meaning and implications.
“If My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14).
Please note that this is a directive and promise for God’s people. It is not “the heathens” that God is calling to humility, prayer, seeking, and repentance. This doesn’t mean we come together as believers and point the finger at “the wicked people.” (Sinners are often defined as the people who sin differently than we do.) It is our call to humble ourselves. To pray, to seek, and to repent for our sins. We need to be less concerned about the sins of “the other people” and much more broken and repentant over our own sins. Only then might we see authentic revival and restoration; not before. And not by carnal means, either.
God help us to set our priorities according to the Word of God and the Spirit’s leading. Let’s regularly re-examine our lifestyles, schedules, budgets, and agendas to see if they are lining up with our stated priorities. Repent when necessary and avoid condemnation or shame. Walk together with trusted mentors and believers to gain encouragement – be a disciple and be accountable. Be willing to be a living example to someone else – make disciples. Be faithful to do all these things with consistency and endurance, by God’s grace.
Seek Jesus first. Put all of your thinking, energy, and resources into His hands—not just your leftovers. Make Him and His presence “the main thing.” I love what our friend Caleb McAfee said: “The top priority is to keep the top priority the top priority.”
SPECIAL UPDATE: CHARLES SIMPSON AND CSM
My father, Charles Simpson, is presently enduring his fourth hospital stay since November 2023. As you may know, he’s been receiving tests and medical treatment due to several physical challenges: electrolyte imbalances, low sodium and potassium, acute gastritis, atrial fibrillation (AFib), short-term memory issues, walking difficulties, a stomach aneurysm, and more. He has been working hard to continue in his recovery, and he sends his love and greetings to you.
Our prayer is for him to be able to come back home soon to continue healing. It is likely he will need some ongoing therapy and nursing care when he does return home. He is very much looking forward to being back in the house with us, escaping hospital food, playing with our puppy, and communicating personally with you.
I want to share a statement from him and follow up with our thoughts regarding what this means for CSM and our related ministries. Here is what is on Dad’s heart:
“During this season of seeking God, I know He has spoken to me about many things. He’s made it clear that my time for traveling in ministry is over and I am to retire. I hope to continue to be available for pastoral care, prayer, and to consult, but I believe God is calling me into a season of increased rest. I want to enjoy my family and ministry relationships as long as He gives me life. We have given ourselves to raising up disciples for Jesus. This remains our call. I love all of you and pray for you daily. I have asked Jack and Sarah Turner to continue in leadership for the Baldwin County group meetings and care. My son Stephen and daughter-in-law Susanne will continue to lead CSM Publishing and our ministry events. My heart is full. I am so thankful for you and honored to have such friends in my life. God is good! He is Light, and in Him there is no darkness.” – Brother Charles
We are doing our best to keep friends updated via social media and literally hundreds of texts, calls, emails, and other messages. Circumstances change frequently and we are taking one step at a time. We are all so profoundly grateful for everyone’s love, prayer, encouragement, and support. Some friends have even visited Dad, which has been a blessing. It is his hope that even though he cannot travel out to see you, some may be willing to travel to Mobile for face-to-face fellowship and prayer. We only ask friends to check with our office to assist in scheduling.
Dad has often said, “When you are young, it is all about success; when you are old, it is all about successors.” We remain committed to restoring the generational bridge and encouraging young people as they step into God’s calling in their lives.
On a personal note, I want to thank you for praying for me in these months as I am dealing with serious kidney, heart, and arterial issues. With lots of medical assistance, two surgeries, wise counsel, and fervent prayer, I have seen encouraging progress. Glory to God! Though I still have some steep hills to climb, including a likely kidney transplant, I know God is with me and is re-tooling me for many more years of service to Him. This April will mark 43 years since I said “yes” to His calling in ministry.
Thank God for Susanne, Grace, Christina Villalobos, Steven, Abigail Hii, Billy and Betty Duke, and Alison Richardson, who have stood so faithfully with Dad and me in these challenges. Also, thanks to our wonderful CSM Board of Directors: Mike Coleman, Larry Grainger, Ronald Gray, and Dwayne Higgason.
We believe that it would be prudent for us to postpone our annual CSM Gatlinburg Conference until Spring of 2025. The Park Vista Hotel in Gatlinburg has graciously agreed to work with us. Our theme will be “Restoring the Generational Bridge.” Watch for more details!
Would you please continue to pray for us and remember us in your giving in a special way during these days? As you can imagine, the challenges and transitions have had an impact on our resources, even as needs and opportunities are significantly increasing. Our prayer is to continue faithfully in God’s calling to embrace truth and extend Christ’s Kingdom.
Please let us know how we can serve you and pray for you as well.
In a global season of stress, noise, and distraction, the Lord is saying to us: “Draw near to Me. Focus on My presence and Word. Listen to My Holy Spirit. I am at work.” Fear not, friends. All of our hope is in Him.
Stephen Simpson, President
STEPHEN SIMPSON is the Editor of One-to-One Magazine and the Director of CSM Publishing. In addition to publishing ministry, Stephen has served in leadership for churches and ministries in Costa Rica, Florida, Mississippi, Texas, and Michigan, as well as being the Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile (2004-2013). He continues to travel in ministry across North America and in other nations.