At Home In The Bahamas

“How are you and your family settling in?” is the question I am most frequently asked.

There has been an evolution to my response over the last couple of months….
“We’re slowly getting adjusted.”
“Just fine thank you.”
“We’re settling in nicely now.”
“We feel at home here.”

It may seem premature to say that I feel at home in The Bahamas, but that’s exactly how I feel. Early on in my time in Nassau, I would make reference to “back home” (i.e. Toronto, Canada), but lately I have been catching myself. Canada is where I’ve come from. Canada is where I’ve lived my entire life until this past June. I am a Canadian citizen. However, strictly speaking, home is right here in Nassau. I did not come here as a missionary for a term. I came here as a called pastor to stay for as long as the Lord permits (see James 4:13-16) and prospers the ministry here.

We’ve set up our house (home!) as a family that is here for the long term. Pictures have been hung, new furniture has been purchased, and we even adopted a Bahamian dog! (a 1.5 year old “Potcake”). Some of the large “practical” pieces of the puzzle are coming together—my daughter is happily enrolled in a fantastic school, and my wife has made some fantastic connections with great people. Today, I found out which street hockey team I will be playing for. Yes, the Nassau Street Hockey League is a big deal, and my aspiration for 2011 is to win the Stanley Conch (I’m not kidding!).

I realize that I’m just short of living here 4 months, but every indication is that this is where we belong. This is where God intends for us to be. The affirmation, generosity, and support from the Session at the Kirk has been off the charts positive. One of the exercises I’m delighted about is we’re devoting half of our Session meeting time to studying Francis Chan’s book, “Crazy Love“.

The congregation’s early response has also been massively positive. The Lord has been merciful in beginning to mend some of the historical wounds within our congregation. I am humbled by the notion that my presence has contributed in some way to the healing and progress we have experienced thus far. I am quick to remind folks, however, that “Apart from (Christ) we can do nothing” (John 15:5). Or, to frame that in the positive, I remind our people, “(We) can do all things through (Christ) who gives us strength” (Phil. 4:13).

I’m simply a guy who is desperate for God’s help. And, I’m so pleased to report that God has hugely exceeded my lofty expectations (Ephesians 3:20, 21). I’m so thankful for grace that has indeed been sufficient for each day (2Corinthians 12:9).

The congregation appears to be growing—not simply numerically, but I sense lives being transformed. We’re also making some great friends along the way.

For the first month or two, I regarded the outpouring of hospitality and support as a function of my newness here. I imagined that the tremendous affection and sense of blessing we were feeling was a part of the “honeymoon” stage. But now I’m starting to wonder if maybe this is the way it’s going to be. Why does the blessing that we feel today about ministry in Nassau have to come to an end? Is it not possible that this is the way it’s going to be?

Challenges within the ministry here may lie ahead—I’ve never known a trouble-free ministry to exist. What I do expect will remain the same, however, is this acute sense that I really am at home in The Bahamas.

Overcoming Temptation

We often think of temptation in terms of the food we love to consume, that we shouldn’t indulge in. I have a very hard time passing on chocolate chip cookies for instance. I find potato chips to be so irresistible, that I’ve been known to take down an entire bag in one sitting. When the Bible talks about temptation, however, something quite different than indulging in a second slice of pie is intended.

Temptation, quite simply, is the inclination to do something contrary to the will of God.

Have you ever wondered where temptation comes from? We may want to claim that “the devil made me do it”, or perhaps we imagine that God is tempting us, but the Scriptures refute this. James explains “God…does not tempt anyone, but each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed” (James 1:13,14).

It is a humbling thing to learn that the greatest obstacle between me and obedience to God’s will is my own desires. The reason I am tempted is because, at some level, I am fond of that thing. This is what makes the fight against temptation so difficult–I’m fighting against something that I’m inclined to do.

As a result, sheer will power won’t cut it. We need something beyond ourselves—we need God to intervene and to alter our affections. We need God to help as take down temptation at its root—we need Him to change our desires.

I have a long way to go in terms of mortifying my desires that contradict God’s will, but I am encouraged by the words of Scripture. Paul explains to the Corinthians (and to us), “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; He will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. And when you are tempted, He will also provide a way out.” (1Corinthians 10:13).

When I delivered a message on Overcoming Temptation at St. Andrew’s Kirk on August, 29, I encouraged the congregation to focus on the “way out” which God promises to provide. Not surprisingly, one of the primary ways in which we access this “way out” is through prayer. But I also cautioned about letting temptation get too close. Let me illustrate this by having you imagine someone jumping off a swimming pool diving board and praying, ‘Lord, please don’t allow me to get wet!’ Do you expect that the Lord would answer such a prayer? Yes, God can do the impossible, but in my experience God provides a “way out” long before we are in mid air.

Followers of Jesus have every reason to be hopeful in their fight against temptation. May I invite you to have a listen to the audio below. I expect it may encourage you as you seek to overcome temptation, and as you endeavour to walk more closely with the Lord Jesus Christ.

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