See the last bullet for more information on the Aug. 26 vote to call Shiv Muthukumar as associate pastor.
I believe a wealth of insight is in the fact that when Satan wants to tear down the whole world, he does so by attacking the faith of a single individual: Eve. That attack is most commonly taught as an assault on the word of God, since Satan famously asks, “Did God really say…?” (Gen. 3:1). But the practical effect of Satan’s question — and this is so important — is Eve can no longer hear the one voice of sanity, the one clear voice of truth and hope in the Cosmos. In a way that Adam cannot address, she is alone in the world, alone in her own head.
This is how Satan goes after me, by making the Word a practical unreality. He removes its direct application to the life I am living, the thoughts I am thinking. So, yes, I believe God loves the world. I’m happy to teach it. But for whatever reason, I do not easily believe that he loves me in particular. This undermines how I think/teach and how I act/obey. More personally, I tend to spiral into discouragement, not even aware of the exact cause.
For these reasons and more I’ve been so thankful for William Gurnall’s The Christian in Complete Armour. It’s a book of typical Puritan detail — 1,000 pages on the seven pieces of armor in Ephesians 6:10-20. But number six is actually a weapon: the Sword of the Spirit. In the 100 pages he spends on the Word, I stumbled onto a little section called “How to Use the Word Against Afflictions.” In that he speaks of “clearing up thy interest in, and right to, the promises” by which he means God’s promises to us in his word “so as not to be run down and trampled upon by Satan.” Gurnall says, “it is sad for a poor Christian to stand at the door of the promise in the dark night of affliction afraid to draw the latch! He should come as boldly for shelter as a child into his father’s house.”
There are probably 50 promises I need to remember, but on the morning I read the section from Gurnall I wrote down four. First, Christ loves me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20). Now I live by faith in the Son of God. Second, I am both a son and an heir of God, by baptism and by faith (Gal 3:26). Third, I am already clean by the word Christ has spoken (Jn 15:3). The work now is to bear much fruit (v.5). Fourth, I have been made a minister of the Gospel (Eph 3:7). I have been given grace to preach the unsearchable riches of Christ, though I am the least of all the saints (vv. 7,8).
You will have different promises you need to remember, maybe having to do with sickness and death, or material resources, or freedom from guilt. I urge you to find them, write them down and pray them. Satan is clever and will prey on your weaknesses. God, speaking in his word, is your defense.
Finally, as announced the past two Sundays, we are calling Shiv as an associate rather than an assistant pastor. In the PCA, an assistant is voted on and called by the elders, but does not have a vote on session since he does not (at least technically) have the voice of the congregation behind him. An associate is voted on and called by the congregation and has every freedom (and responsibility) of any other pastor. Again, the vote will take place in a brief meeting Aug. 26th after worship.
Please be praying for this — really. This vote, along with the exams in presbytery and the ordination service in October, comprise a momentous and pivotal event in Shiv and Namhui’s lives. The pastorate is hard work for both husband and wife. It is a vocation subject to a stricter judgment (Jas 3:1) and expectations from God and men. They will need your prayers and encouragement.