Lee Hutchings

Not Now: The Surprising Joy of Waiting on the Lord

Though the flesh fights against us in wanting what we want immediately, waiting on the Lord can equip our hearts and call to our minds that our status in this life is only temporary. To wait on the Lord is a wonderful and helpful weapon in our arsenal to fight against sin. We are not yet what we will be, and waiting patiently for God to renew all things, especially ourselves, fuels our joy. The best is truly yet to come, and it is more than worth waiting for.

Anyone who has seen the original “Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory” film from the 1970’s undoubtedly remembers the spoiled Veruca Salt who whines in song to her enabling father,
“I want the whole works
presents and prizes and sweets and surprises,
of all shapes and sizes,
and now don’t care how
I want it now,
don’t care how
I want it now.”
While such behavior and attitude is blatantly odious to the the viewing audience, what is often much more subtle to recognize or admit in ourselves is our own inability to wait and have patience.
As a society and culture we don’t like to wait. Like Ms. Salt, we want what we want, and we typically want it sooner rather than later. Yet, we miss surprising spiritual benefits and blessings when we fail to head God’s imperatives and call to wait on Him. The word in Hebrew “Qavah” (Isaiah 40:31) means much more than merely sitting idle or with our thumbs twisting, like passively waiting for an Uber ride or the toaster to be done. It denotes waiting with activity, waiting with great hope to watch for God to act. The fact that God commands us to wait on Him ought to be enough rationale for obedience. However, in this very brief post, I’d like to remind us  of three surprising joys that belong to the believer when they wait on the Lord.

Waiting on the Lord fosters dependance rather than entitlement– Behold, as the eyes of servants look to the hand of their master, as the eyes of a maidservant to the hand of her mistress, So our eyes look to the LORD our God, till he has mercy upon us. Psalm 123:2

When I don’t get what I want in life, in relationships, vocations and jobs, or even in ministry, I am forced to lean on something (or rather someone) else to attain satisfaction and hope. If the Lord “spoiled” us, and simply gave us whatever we desire (given our fallen nature, such gifts would be cruel) we would cherish the gifts rather than the giver. We would remain spiritually atrophied, for we would not look as much to the giver of all good things. He gave us His only Son, Paul reminds us in his letter to the church in Rome (Romans 8:32), how also will he not give us all things in their providential timing? Waiting on the Lord protects us from a sense of spiritual entitlement.
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The Heart and Mind of Godly Ministry: Learning from the Letters of Calvin and Rutherford

Two humble men who remind us that the glory of God, delight in Christ, and the growth of God’s people is our great aim and end  in the church. Their letters divulge their longing for the power of the gospel, piety of the people of God, prayerfulness of the saints, and tender presence in the family of God.

Since High School, when I became a believer, God has richly blessed my life with multiple mentors and heroes in the faith. Their friendship, support, challenge, and rebuke have seasoned my walk with Christ and greatly equipped my service in ministry, and I will forever be in their debt. However, in the past few months, the Lord has used two men in particular to minister to my heart and life. And these two fathers in the faith have been dead for hundreds of years.
What a gift the church has in the printed copies of the personal letters of John Calvin and Samuel Rutherford (Thank you Banner of Truth Trust!). Attending a Reformed seminary, we were naturally exposed to the great Reformer’s and Puritan’s prolific writings in exegesis, systematic and pastoral theology, as well as critical commentary. But its been just recently that I’ve come to treasure the letters and correspondence of godly and model pastors like Calvin and Rutherford, and I’d like to share two brief excerpts that provide a window looking out at the beautiful landscape of their pastoral wisdom and piety.
Philip R. Johnson notes in his contribution to the volume celebrating the 500th anniversary of Calvin’s birth, “Calvin’s most underrated body of work was his letters— long epistles, in many cases. Most of Calvin’s letters convey the great tenderness of his pastor’s heart—especially when he wrote to admonish or correct someone in error. The tone of the letters belies the modern caricature of Calvin as a stern, fire-breathing, doctrinaire authoritarian.” I couldn’t agree more! In June of 1551, Calvin wrote to a “French Gentleman”, perhaps a member of the family of Theodore Beza as the letter was produced upon the occasion of an illness which endangered Beza’s life. The letter reveals a touching tribute to his affection as a friend and partner in ministry. He writes:
“When the messenger presented himself with your letter to Beza, I was seized with fresh alarm, and, at the same time, weighed down with a load of grief. For I was informed, the day before, that he had been seized with the plague. I was therefore not only troubled about the danger he was in, but from my very great affection for him I felt almost overpowered, as if I was already lamenting his death…”
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The Danger of Discontent

Discontent can easily lead to questioning the goodness of God internally and outright rebellion externally in seeking to manipulate cirucmstances to attain what we falsely believe we deserve. Instead, its is my prayer that we as Christians may be equiped by the Spirit to replenish the oil of gladness and contentment in the lampstands of our souls by mimicking the Psalmist who says to “cast your burden on the LORD and He will sustain you; He will never permit the righteous to be moved.” (Psalm 55:22)

Each year, Northeast Ohio (where I live and minister) is consistently ranked in the top five “gloomiest” areas in the United States. All you have to do is look outside in December and January, and you’ll understand what I mean. We average just 168 days of sunshine per year (that’s less than half of the whole calendar) … the U.S. average is 205. We typically see about 64.5 inches of snow annually, and an average about 41 inches of rainfall. Perhaps because I was raised here, I confess “gloomy” weather doesn’t bother me as much as it does others. However, as a Pastor I have noticed that in the doldrums of winter, I find myself having more conversations with people about issues relating to depression and discouragement, then I do say in June and July. Regardless if one deals with “Seasonal Affective Disorder”(a.k.a feeling SAD) or not, everyone can relate to experiencing seasons in their lives where they feel down, disheartened, and even discontent. Maybe its because of a particular sin, committed by us or to us, or maybe its an external circumstance and situation we are facing that is especially trying and difficult, all people (believers included) are prone to struggle with a lack of what Paul learned: contentment. The Apostle writes to the church in Philippi, “I have learned, in whatsoever state I am therewith to be content.” (Philippians 4:11)
I’m growing more convinced of the regular necessity for all Christians to make an active and conscientious pursuit of what the great Puritan Jeremiah Burroughs called, “The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment.” Not only for its own spiritual benefit, but because of the danger of living without it.  As our spiritual forebears, the Puritans have thankfully written and preached extensively on this subject. And we are the richer for it. But I want to cite, or quote,  an entire chapter (stay with me, its not as long as you might think-just three paragraphs) from another great spiritual treasure, Thomas Watson’s “The Art of Divine Contentment”. Wherever you may be today with the Lord, I trust this passage will be as beneficial and encouraging to you as it has been to me in my life and ministry. It’s worth our meditation and reflection:
“ Christian contentment shows us how a Christian may come to lead a comfortable life, even a heaven upon earth, be the times what they will.”
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The Grace of Warning

If a bridge is out ahead when I’m driving on the road, being told in advance is a blessing not a curse. And so, rather than being contrary to God’s love, His judgments and warnings are actually manifestations of His concern and mercy! May we as His covenant people come to see all His warnings about judgment and danger as great gifts of grace.

On March 18, 1925, an outbreak of tornados in the Midwest killed nearly 750 people and injured more than 2,000 across three states with literally no warning. Today, thanks to God’s kind common grace and the advance of modern meteorology, such a surprise catastrophe is almost unthinkable. In the year 2022, residents in effected areas can be warned to take immediate shelter in just minutes.
Warnings can be life saving. However, our human stubbornness and pride often recoil when we are warned, especially coming from God’s word in relation to our sin. There may be no more dangerous epitaph and warning for human beings than in Romans 1:24-25, “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator.”
But what a gift of God’s grace to be alerted to what is coming, whether it’s a tornado, a flood, or God’s final judgement. Just as a loving parent warns their child not to touch the stove because they could be severely injured, so does our heavenly father warn His children of the consequences of sinful rebellion and disobedience. The minor prophet Amos is a wonderful case in point.
The message of Amos is primarily a message of judgement. God’s covenant people, particularly in the northern kingdom of Israel, lived in a time of great prosperity and ease, which manifested itself in an empty and godless religion. Those who worshiped Yahweh at that time were more concerned with merely “going through the motions”, than true devotion and obedience to God. Sadly, this is a reality for many in our own day as well. One can clearly discern through the entire prophecy how God had been extremely patient in the face of corruption, greed, injustice, idolatry, and immorality. However, His justice demands satisfaction, and Israel’s consequences for her sins would be soon to come. But like most prophetic warnings, Amos also offers the hope of new life and salvation for all who will turn to the Lord.
For almost two centuries the kingdom of God’s people had been divided into two nations – Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Israel was ruled by Jeroboam II (786-746 B.C.) and was enjoying, what it thought was, its golden years.
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“The Most Wonderful Time of the Year”? Keeping Perspective This Holiday Season

Wherever you may be in December 2021, this is not your final destination. As believers, our hope is more exciting than the anticipation I experienced as child, unable to fall asleep on Christmas Eve. Back then I couldn’t wait to open presents in the morning. But the gift that awaits those who trust in Jesus Christ is not worth to be compared with any material possession. Now, I can’t wait for the day when our faith shall be sight and we will see God face to face, and He will wipe away every tear from our eyes.

I wasn’t eavesdropping, but while waiting in line for coffee this week I overheard two separate conversations between two different sets of friends say essentially the following: “This is the best! I love this time of year and I can’t wait for all the festivities with my family” and then not 5 minutes later I heard another person say, “It’s only December 1 and I already am ready for the holidays to be over. This time of year is the worst”
Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, I think we can all agree that this time of year can bring out the best and the worst, not just in our culture around us, but even within ourselves and our  families. Like those individuals in the coffee shop, for some the holiday season is truly wonderful. It’s a time of giving, of gathering with loved ones and friends, and a time of celebration of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. But for others, this time of year can be stressful, lonely, and a bombardment of hyper-commercialized, unbiblical sentimentality.  Our Westminster Confession of Faith teaches us that God alone is lord of the conscience, and so I don’t intend this article to give any recommendations or suggestions as to how or why a believer should navigate the 31 days in December, but I do wish to offer 3 reminders that I believe can help keep the holidays in perspective, and hopefully encourage us as Christians amidst the hustle and bustle.
You are not alone.  “And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” Matthew 28:20b
The Holidays can be the hardest on those who are missing someone around their table this year. The loss of a spouse, parent, child, or even just the physical distance and separation of family across a country (or for missionaries a whole continent!)  can present a host of pain and heartache. Not to mention everything we’ve been forced to endure the last two years with a  global pandemic. In the age of social media, when seemingly everyone is posting or sharing photos of great gatherings of loved ones together, it’s not hard to dwell in loss and loneliness. But as our Lord reminds us, take heart! God promises He is with us. That’s not an idle or empty promise. God sees us, even in our struggles and heartaches, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, we are truly not alone. Regardless of our marriage status, or if we have multiple children or are childless, we have Christ and His bride, the church.
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The Value of a Secure Identity

Jesus our Lord is the great lover of our soul who gave his own life so that we might be forever in His kingdom. What a deep breath that reality is for our lives. I don’t have to have it all, or live my best life now. My best life is yet to come.I am one loved by the Lord. That is enough.

Earlier this week I opened my email to find a message from Wells Fargo thanking me for my online application for a new checking and savings account. Another message soon followed saying my application had been accepted. Flattered as I was, the problem is I, nor my wife, had applied for an account with Wells Fargo, nor do we bank there (nothing personal). I called their online service department and after several automated prompts, I was finally able to speak to a real person and explain the situation. I was more annoyed than surprised or upset by the whole ordeal, but something about the way the person on the other line said the words, “Sir, you are a victim of identity theft” that took me aback (P.S. I think they should have some type of dramatic music rift to follow anytime they tell people that).
Issues surrounding identity are a hot commodity in the world of 2021. Whether its financial or online fraud (Ive since learned that roughly 9 million people in the United States alone have their identity stolen each year), legal designations of gender and sexuality, or even the long term pandemic of self-esteem and anxiety in people of all ages, our identity determines a great deal in our lives.
As believers, the Bible tells us our identity is in Christ. We are as the Apostle Paul mentions, “a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” Corinth. 5:17 However, thanks to the ongoing presence and pressures of sin, we often have spiritual amnesia. We forget who we really are, and neglect all the benefits of being united to the Lord Jesus Christ. And so I’d like to share 3 benefits (of course there are endless more!) of our identity in Christ that Ive been meditating on.

Our identity in Christ gives us new focus: Regardless of what is happening around us or even to us, as Christians we know that this present world is not our final home. This truth is a new pair of spiritual lenses for the eyes of our faith.  Paul writes in Colossians 3:2-3, “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” Knowing my life is in Christ gives me a fresh perspective that anchors my heart and attitude in every day life. I often have to ask myself when I am discouraged or worried, “will this still matter next week, month, or year?”

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