Publication: Pastoral Letter, August 1999
Dear Friend in Christ:
This month, I want to share something that is strongly on my heart, and I believe is a word from the Lord to all of us. I also want to share some important news.
I hope that you are having a good summer. It has been a good one for us, though filled with activity and transition. I have resigned my position as Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Mobile in order to devote all of my time to translocal ministry and to CSM. I have moved my office into my home, and Kathleen Tyrrell, my administrative assistant, has moved her office into her home. The CSM office will stay where it is at Covenant Church in Mobile, and their address and phone number will remain the same.
Our oldest son, Stephen, and his family are moving to Houston, Texas, where he will become Associate Pastor at Christ Covenant Church. He will continue to edit One-to-One Magazine and to maintain and cultivate relationships with our CSM friends and supporters. In Houston, Stephen will be working with Pete Sanchez who pastors Christ Covenant Church. Stephen has a long-standing relationship to this congregation, and we believe the Lord is leading him in this direction.
These transitions represent this season of change and growth, and prepare us for a greater harvest. This is a good time to seek the Lord for His will, in order to be ready for the future.
Isaiah 55:6 says, “Seek the Lord while He may be found and call upon Him while He is yet near.” This implies several truths. First, we see that we need God. His presence and purpose are vital to our lives. Another implication is that His presence and purpose are not always readily apparent; we need to look for Him, though He is near. A third implication is a warning; He may not always be near. Now is the time to seek Him.
Daniel 9:3 says that Daniel “set his face” to seek the Lord. Seeking God requires focus and single-mindedness. We do not seek God casually. His face and His will are serious issues that require our total interest. We need to see and hear clearly.
Colossians 2:2-3 tell us that all of the wealth of God is “hidden” in Christ. God’s treasures are to be found in Christ, and require a search. Seeking eliminates those who are not vitally interested in God’s will and who do not take Him seriously. God’s treasures are for those who treasure God.
We are told to seek God, but God is not “lost” – we are! Calling out to God helps us not only to find God, but also to be found by God. I remember my father’s story of being lost in a dense south Louisiana swamp when he was a missionary in the 1930s. He had gone hunting with a friend, Joe Granier. Joe knew the swamp, but Dad had become separated from him. Upon realizing that he was lost, he began to call out at the top of his voice, “Joe!”
Soon Dad heard Joe’s voice echoing back to him through the swamp. Dad followed the voice and found Joe. Joe wasn’t lost; Dad was. When we seek God, His voice leads us to Him, and we are found by God.
The Bible says, “All we like sheep have gone astray” (see Isaiah 53:6). We can become occupied while “grazing,” with our eyes focused on business, pleasure, or other issues, only to discover that our guide is somewhere else. That is the time to cry out, as Israel did when they were in Egypt (see Exodus 2:23-25). As David said, “I cried unto the Lord with my voice and He heard me from His holy hill.” (see Psalm 3:4). Much of Psalms is about crying out to God. The evidence is that the sooner we do so, the less trouble we get into.
THE SEEKING SAVIOR
God is not passive toward us, ignoring our need. God also seeks us. Jesus said in Luke 19:10, “The Son of Man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” He made that statement in response to criticism for eating with sinners. The Great Physician made “house calls.” He didn’t just say, “Call Me at the office.”
Jesus did not confine Himself to synagogues or houses of worship. He did not confine Himself to seminars. He traveled over the villages, towns, and cities of Israel. He walked the hot dusty roads; He met the woman at the well at high noon; He found sinners in their boats, at parties, and wherever they were. Jesus was not lazy, theoretical, or simply a mystic. As a boy, He said, “I must be about my Father’s business.” In a few years, he touched many thousands. He said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me, while it is day.” Jesus was a worker on a mission to save the lost. He worked as though the time was short, and it was.
The Holy Spirit is also a seeker. He moved the disciples to go out into Jerusalem with the Gospel. Eventually, He was able to move them out to nations. Jesus prophesied that the Holy Spirit would make the disciples witnesses unto Him and would draw men to Jesus. Revelation 22:17 tells us that the Holy Spirit invites people to come and drink the water of life freely.
The Scripture is clear: the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is to seek the lost. He is not willing that anyone should perish.
So, what about us? The overwhelming majority of church attenders do no seek the lost. How do I know? The results clearly show only a small minority of Christians ever leads anyone to Christ. If this is true, and I am convinced that it is, we must ask ourselves if we serve the seeking Savior. We may be serving religion, but not the Savior.
Many Christians are caught up in their ministry, or their gifts, or they are seeking some prophetic word on what they should be doing. Without ignoring these bonafide issues, let me remind us that God’s stated purpose is to preach the Gospel of His Kingdom to all nations (see Matthew 24:14). We should all be telling the Gospel. In Luke 14:23, Jesus said, “Go out into the highways and hedges and compel them to come in.”
Lately, I have received testimonies of Christians who are sharing their faith. Some have started “One-to-One” groups in support of personal evangelism. I am encouraged by these reports. Nevertheless, I am concerned about the multitude that do not share their faith with the multitude who have no faith. Everywhere that I have brought this message, pastors say, “This is the word of the Lord to us.”
Is this the word of the Lord to you? Will you please write to me and tell me if God is saying this to you? Will you tell me what you are doing about it, and what results you have seen? And for a limited time, if you will write and request them, we will send you two booklets free of charge: How to Start and Lead a One-to-One Group and How to Lead Someone to Faith. These booklets will help you to share your faith and bear fruit that will cause heaven to rejoice.
SUCCESS IN THE MISSION
Charles Simpson Ministries is in the midst of summer, which is typically a slow time financially. But we are continuing to support ministries, publish, and translate biblical truths. The work continues, and we truly need your ongoing prayers and financial support. Our daughter, Charlyn, is having success with ministry to children and youth in Costa Rica. International Outreach Ministries is touching many thousands through its missionary support activities. We are deeply grateful to you for your love and prayers.
Please keep Stephen and Susanne in your prayers during these days of transition to Houston, and remember CSM in your prayers and in your giving.
My desire is simply to help you succeed in doing God’s will. I trust God will help us all to succeed.
Scripture References: Isaiah 55:6; Daniel 9:3; Colossians 2:2-3; Isaiah 53:6; Exodus 2:23-25; Psalm 3:4; Luke 19:10; Matthew 24:14; Luke 14:23