Pastor Ken Armstrong
The Lord's Church
Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico
There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one LORD, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. – Ephesians 4:4-6 (NKJV)
Much is said within the fellowship of believers about putting ourselves in the hands of G-d – about trusting Him and serving Him. That is very easy for us when circumstances in life and ministry match up with our own goals and paradigms, but the real blessings begin exactly where we must trust His sovereignty in circumstances that threaten our reputations and our visions for the future.
That was exactly the situation this year, when three pastoral leaders – Earl Schenck, my wife Dawn Armstrong, and myself – found it necessary to take a principled stand against actions and ideas that ran counter to the Word of God.
In the forty-five years that I have walked in the faith, this was not the first time I have seen discord and division in a congregation, but more than most this was deeply painful and personal. And beautiful. Yes, beautiful. When viewed as a necessary, seasonal “pruning of the vine,” we find that this thing that is often looked upon as failure is, in fact, the Master of the vineyard doing exactly what He must to allow the vine to flourish.
There are many, many important lessons that came and are still coming from this blessed care, but one of the most profound is the great growth in our relationship with Synagogue Yeshua Ben David (Guadalajara). This relationship began nearly a year ago in our previous congregation, but despite words of support, there was resistance to truly nurturing the unity between two bodies of believers. (This, by the way, in spite of the fact that I have been teaching for years concerning the essential Jewishness of our Christian faith.)
What has happened in about one hundred days since the inception of The Lord's Church as a new, independent congregation, can only be viewed as a glorious example of the mercy, grace, and faithfulness of a Father who only wants the best for His children.
Through our partnership with Synagogue Yeshua Ben David and the anointed teaching of Rabbi Manuel Hernández Gómez, the congregation of The Lord's Church has not only thrived numerically against the likelihood of human institutions in this place, but – and from a pastor's heart, this is much more important – we are experiencing a spiritual growth like I have never seen before. (And for which, incidentally, we take no personal credit.)
Paul emphasized to the churches in Ephesus and Rome – and the writer of the Book of Hebrews affirm's Paul's testimony – that there is only one body of believers, and Yeshua the Messiah is the head of that body. I believe we are absolutely in a time when we are seeing a fulfillment of G-d's promises as He calls together all of his true children to identify not by proud or bigoted division, but by humble and faithful repentance and submission to Him.
And this is the testimony of our experience this year. While The Lord's Church doesn't identify itself as a Messianic congregation per se, we identify ourselves as children of the One True Living G-d, who has woven one rich tapestry of Jews and Gentiles for His glory. No longer are we “Messianic Jews and Christians,” but blessed and devoted children of the Father who intended it to be so from before the foundation of the universe.
All glory to His Name.