Nathan Smith – Pastor/Elder
I was blessed with a mom and dad who love God, love each other, and love their kids. At a very early age I heard the Gospel Story and believed that it was true. I knew that I was a sinner in need of a Savior, and I prayed, asking that Jesus would be my Savior. I still believe that the Holy Spirit planted the seed of faith in my heart way back then, and there has never been a time when I completely abandoned that faith.
But, in this broken world, there’s no such thing as a childhood completely free from sin and its effects. For me, pornography was the avenue that connected the brokenness of the world with the sinfulness of my heart. After having been exposed to pornography around age 7, for about the next 20 years the daily battle with lust in my heart and mind severely hindered my spiritual growth. Despite this, I managed to keep up the appearance of being a “good Christian kid.” Starting around the age of 17, I was even involved in leadership within the Church, mostly through music. But for 20 years, out of pride and shame, I never confessed my deep, overwhelming sin struggle to a single person. And, I never experienced the deep joy and assurance of God’s love that I had read about in Scripture and saw in some Christians that I knew.
All that changed one night as the Holy Spirit used the humble confession of a church leader, and the gentle questioning of my sweet wife, Katie, to bring me to a clear point of decision. By God’s grace, I chose to give up my pride, and confessed my sin to Katie that night. Her response gave me the clearest picture I’d ever had of how God feels about our sin; He detests it as disgusting and wicked. At the same time, her brokenheartedness for me, and the forgiveness she extended to me, gave me the clearest picture I’d ever had of how God responds when we truly humble ourselves and throw ourselves on His mercy. Since childhood I had known these things were true, but her response is what the Holy Spirit used to make the fact that the Father laid my sin on Jesus sweet to me in a way that I’d never known before.
Since that day, I’ve tried to live each day humbly throwing myself on the mercy of God. I finally know what it means to rest in His love. He’s made His Word my daily spiritual food, He’s caused my marriage to thrive, He’s blessed us with six incredible children, and He’s given me the chance to serve the Church as a pastor, so that I can help others to know, live, and find hope in His sovereign grace. I am so undeserving of any of these things. His grace is a constant, amazing mystery to me!
My Hope for Peine Ridge Church
My hope for Peine Ridge Church is to see people with all kinds of different histories caught up in God’s Great Story, and to see them walking humbly and joyfully, in awe of God’s grace, all the way to the end of their chapter in His Story. My hope is that God will use that kind of living to make Himself famous in this city, and that our children, and our children’s children (and on and on until the end of this age) will continue walking in the path we’ve walked before them.