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
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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?

Disintegrating Families

Family
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The temptation of any child of vocational Christian ministers is to see the work of the ministry as just another thing, just another religious occupation.

Breaking through the wall of “public religion” must be the intense responsibility of the parent-minister if his or her children are to understand that this isn’t big business, a slick profession, or an entertainment arena where Mommy or Daddy puts on a performance.

The key word is authenticity. Not perfection, for no one gets it right all the time.

The Value of Obedience to God

Man
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For a moment, let’s pretend you work for me. We’re not in the pastorate. In fact, you are an executive in a company that is growing rapidly. I’m the owner and I’m interested in expanding overseas.

To pull this off, I make plans to travel abroad and stay there until the new branch office gets established. I make all the arrangements to take my family in the move to Europe for six to eight months, and I leave you in charge of the busy stateside organization.

I tell you that I will write you regularly and give you direction and instructions. I leave and you stay.

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.

Being a Servant Is Unannounced

Being a Servant
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As Jesus prepared to wash His disciples’ feet, He did not say, “Men, I am now going to demonstrate servanthood—watch my humility.” No way. That kind of pride-on-parade was the trademark of the Pharisees.

If you wondered whether they were humble, all you had to do was hang around them awhile. Sooner or later they would announce it . . . which explains why Jesus came down so hard on them (take a quick look at Matthew 23!).

Unlike those pious frauds, the Messiah slipped away from the table without saying a word. He quietly pulled off His outer tunic, and with towel, pitcher, and pan in hand, He moved silently from one man to the next.

Of course, they weren’t sitting as they are portrayed in Leonardo da Vinci’s work The Last Supper. All due respect for that genius, but he missed it when he portrayed the biblical scene through Renaissance eyes.

A Self-Description of Jesus

Old Man and Sunset
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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
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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
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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,