Two Truths for Coping with Suffering

Coping
(Image from Pixabay)

I have found great help from two truths God gave me at a time in my life and ministry when I was bombarded with a series of unexpected and unfair blows (from my perspective).

In my darkest hours, these principles became my anchor of stability, my only means of survival.

  • Afflicted
  • Confused
  • Persecuted
  • Rejected

I claimed these two truths and held on to them. As wild waves, strong winds, and pounding rain in a sea of difficulty continued, I grabbed hold of the mast of God’s protective power.

He took me through the storm of consequences and kept me from becoming a bitter man.

About Our Calling . . . and Artichokes

Answer Your Calling
(Image from Pixabay)

If you’ve ever traveled up Highway 1 along the coast of California from Los Angeles to San Francisco, you have passed through the little town of Castroville.

Castroville is noted for one thing. Artichokes.

If you like artichokes, you’ll love Castroville. If you don’t like artichokes, well, there’s not much else to like in Castroville.

As you drive through the town, you think things like, Oh, I’m so grateful God has not called me to Castroville. And if you’re in the ministry, you always add, But I’m available, Lord! I’ll go if that’s where You would like me to serve.

We learn to say that, don’t we?

Make Sure You Rest

Resting
(Image from Pixabay)

Following the sixth day of creation, the Lord God deliberately stopped working. It wasn’t that there was nothing else He could have done. It certainly wasn’t because He was exhausted.

He hadn’t run out of ideas or energy. He could easily have made more worlds, created an infinite number of other forms of life, and provided multiple millions more galaxies beyond what He did.

But He didn’t. He stopped. He spent an entire day resting. He marked off this one day as special. Like none other. If I read this correctly, it seems that He made the day on which He rested a “priority” period of time.

I’m of the belief that we’re no longer bound by the Sabbath command (Romans 14:5; Colossians 2:16). But I don’t believe we can sidestep the principle to set aside a regular time of rest.

That includes us pastors. We need to stop regularly—and not because we’re done working. If we intend to “be imitators of God,” as Ephesians 5:1 commands, we, too, will need to make rest a priority. As pastors, this includes:

Three Timely Lessons for Pastors

Man
(Image from Pixabay)

In recent posts, I have written about God’s servants feeling used and unappreciated, experiencing undeserved disrespect and resentment, and having hidden greed—a desire to be rewarded.

From these very real and common perils, there emerge at least three timely lessons for all of us pastors to remember.

Lesson one: no servant of God is completely safe. A tough truth to accept! We who give and give become increasingly more vulnerable as time passes (read John 15:20).

Truth be told, there are times we’ll get ripped off. We will be used . . . even misused. We will feel unappreciated. But realizing ahead of time this will happen, we are better equipped to handle it when it comes.

A Self-Description of Jesus

Old Man and Sunset
(Image from Pixabay)

I’ve been involved in a serious study of Scripture for more than half of my life. In all that time I have found only one place where Jesus Christ—in His own words—describes His own “inner man.”

In doing so, He uses only two words. Unlike most celebrities, those words are not phenomenal and great. Jesus doesn’t even mention that He was sought after as a speaker.

Although it is true, He doesn’t say: “I am wise and powerful,” or “I am holy and eternal,” or “I am all-knowing and absolute deity.” Do you remember what He said?

Proud Hearts and Dirty Feet

muddy
(Image from Pixabay)

The gentle and humble lifestyle of the Savior is nowhere more evident than in the scene recorded in John 13 where He washed the feet of His friends, the disciples.

On that occasion He left us some timeless principles regarding serving God . . . principles we dare not ignore.

Consequences of a Moral Tumble

Failure
(Image from Pixabay)

A number of years ago, Randy Alcorn wrote a little sidebar called, “Consequences of a Moral Tumble,” in a magazine titled Leadership. I’ve carried it with me since 1988.

Trust me, if you review such consequences regularly, your lust will take a backseat . . . but it still won’t go away. He writes,

Cultivating Enduring Companions

Friends
(Image from Pixabay)

As I scan the lives of those I most admire in Scripture, I quickly discover that very few of them were loners. Not long ago, I spent almost a year studying the aging apostle John—a man who was still active in his mid-nineties!

I’ve logged numerous hours perusing his first letter, which is filled with terms of endearment, like “little children” and “beloved” and his most-frequent exhortation, “love one another.”

John’s life remained intertwined with others. He never “outgrew” his need for people.

And believe it or not, when we get into that major work we call Revelation, which he wrote while all alone on the rugged island of Patmos, John isn’t halfway into chapter one before he identifies himself to his readers as,

A Season for Humble Gratitude

Christmas
(Image from Unsplash)

It’s baaaack! The age-old yuletide season is about to slip in the door once again. Better not shout, better not pout, for the malls will be playing “Jingle Bells” several thousand times between now and December 25.

If you’re not careful, the crowds and commercialism will weigh you down like that fourth helping of stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner.

And there’s nothing worse than a jaded attitude that resists the true spirit of the season.

Although this has been a challenging year in numerous ways, we have a practical reason to look back over it with gratitude for God’s protection and grace.

This reflection sets in motion the ideal mental attitude to carry us through the weeks ahead.

When I Fell in Love with Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving
(Image from Unsplash)

My love affair with Thanksgiving takes me all the way back to my boyhood days. I had just turned 10 years of age and was in fifth grade at Southmayd Elementary School in East Houston.

As I recall, I was still going barefoot to school—and I combed my hair, maybe three times a week. Girls didn’t matter a lot to me when I was 10! It was on a Wednesday, the day before our Thanksgiving holidays began.

The year was 1944. Our nation was at war across the Atlantic into Europe as well as in the Pacific and far beyond.

Times were simple back then but they were also rugged. Everything was rationed. Framed stars hung proudly in neighborhood windows—and sometimes they were quietly changed to crosses.

Everyone I knew was patriotic to the core. Without television, we relied on “newsreels” that were shown at the movies, bold newspaper headlines, and LIFE magazine, which carried photos and moving stories of courage in battle and deaths at sea. Signs were posted inside most stores and on street corners, all of them with the same four words: