“I Don’t Care Anymore!”

“It’s time for me to quit!”

“I’m so weary and tired.”

“I need a break from the ministry!”

“The past two years have been my worst ever in all these years of ministry.”

“What’s the use?”

“The financial struggle has gotten the best of me.”

“I didn’t know so-called Christians could be so mean!”

“My family has gone through hell!”

“Loneliness in ministry is severe.”

These and a hundred more statements have been heard and made by pastors over the years, some recently and others frequently.

Pastor, I am right there with you.

Many years ago in a ministry in another state, the deacon chairman lived directly across the street from the parsonage. He and wife watched us “like a hawk.” They rose up against my wife and me, even leading others to join them. At seemingly my wit’s end one morning, my wife standing in the bedroom with me, I grabbed a pillow from the bed, hurled it across the room, and yelled, “I CAN’T TAKE IT ANYMORE!!

Now, some thirty years later, many more blessings than battles, I can say, “I made it, and we are continuing to make it, take it, move forward, . . . all by the sufficient grace and unfathomable love of God, plus the multiplied “ravens” (e.g. Elijah, 1 Kings 17) He has sent our way.

Pastor, may I help you today?

Perhaps one of the things that is “killing you” today, breaking down your body, and harming your marriage and family as well as the ministry is your own set of expectations.

Psalm 62:5, My soul, wait silently for God alone, For my expectation (my hope) is from Him.

Can you honestly say that?

Who or what sets your expectations?

  • That “To Do” list that never is completed?
  • Some church members/board or your perceived/assumed viewpoint of the church members’ thoughts about you?
  • Your false identity that you think you have to live up to as being the “man of God”?
  • Your own deceptive heart?
  • That “super conference” you just attended and heard of many success stories?
  • Your Twitter feed?
  • Your recent track of success that must be continued or you will look like a failure?
  • That text notification you just received?
  • Your idea of being “superman” pastor who never takes a day off?
  • A sense of guilt when you do take a day off?
  • Wanting to perform every Sunday, being on your “A” game?
  • Fear?
  • Pride?
  • Lust?
  • Criticism?

Pastor friend, may I suggest two things?

  1. Please take some time to rest; learn to rest. Most pastors do not know how to “take their foot off the accelerator.” Ministry is 24/7, even on vacation. Nevertheless, you need to set in your calendar a morning or day to rest during the week as well as at least four times a year go away to a cottage or some other get-away to, yes, get away! You are worn out! Even when you do take a vacation, it takes three days to unwind, then you haven’t taken the upcoming Sunday off, so you are back in “get ready to preach, get prepared for Sunday mode,” and you have not properly rested your body and soul. If you don’t learn to rest, you are headed for potential failure, a downfall in ministry. I will write more about this in the days ahead.
  2. Wherever you go to rest, take a list of any of the expectations mentioned above, adding those from your own personal collection and lay them before the Lord in honest, crying out, transparent, conversational (you talk and then listen to God) prayer. Find a place by the lake, along the hiking trail, at the dock, on your back deck, someplace you can be alone. undistracted. Wherever you are, honestly talk out loud to the Lord about each one of these. Christ is your Shepherd and the Head of the Church. He’s your intercessor. Let Him redirect your focus, your motives, your goals, your passions, your dreams, your heart!! Be sure to write in a journal what He reveals to you and add the scriptures He brings to your mind for each one. Don’t be in a hurry! Leave your cell phone alone, please. Don’t use it to search the scriptures. Bring a printed Bible with you.

Pastor, go to the cross, then the empty tomb, and settle in at the Throne. Don’t be in a hurry at either place. Rest there awhile and soak your soul in Matthew 11:28-30, Romans 8 and Hebrews 12:1-3.

You see, when your expectations come from God, He gives grace to accomplish His will (Philippians 2:13), and He’s responsible for the outcome.

Bob Saget, Covid & Bronx Fire

On the last day of 2021, Bob Saget reflected on the passing of 99 year-old Betty White by saying, “She always said the love of her life was her husband, Allen Ludden, who she lost in 1981. Well, if things work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife, they are reunited. I don’t know what happens when we die, but if Betty says you get to be with the love of your life, then I happily defer to Betty on this.”

According to worldomenters.info, as of Monday, January 10, 2022, Covid has been the cause of death of 861, 021 people in the USA and 5,511,396 in the world.

Sunday morning, fire broke out in a Bronx, NY, apartment complex killing 17 people. Eight of them were children. “It was absolutely horrific,” Firefighters Association President Andrew Ansbro said. “I talked to many veteran firefighters who said it was the worst fire they had seen in their lives. They were doing CPR on people outside. It was absolutely horrific. Members operated with upmost heroism. Unfortunately, not all fires have a positive outcome. It’s horrible. This fire will be with these members forever.” (abc7ny.com)

This world is filled with suffering and sorrow. It is not supposed to be that way.

Then why so much agony, angst, fear, disappointment, and death?

As God created the universe, He saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good. And there was evening and there was morning, the sixth day (Genesis 1:31). Upon creating man and woman in His own image (Genesis 1:26) and from the dust of the ground (Genesis 2:7), He placed them in the Garden of Eden, blessed them, and . . . said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Genesis 1:28).

What went wrong?

Sin. God gave man a freewill to choose and being tempted by Satan, he chose to go his own way and plunged the whole world into sin (Genesis 2:8-3:24). Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all sinned—for sin indeed was in the world (Romans 5:12-13a). You see, the world is totally broken because of sin.

Is there any hope for us? Is there anyone who can forever correct the sin problem? Will it always be this way? My friend, just as the world is completely broken by sin, Jesus is the complete answer for every sin, every wrong, every heartache, and every act of unrighteousness (Romans 5:14-21).

Covid constantly produces fear and reminds us of death. Man, even in his God-given mental capacity, has not figured out how to eradicate this pandemic. Yet, in the midst of it all, I hear these hope-filled words of truth at the tomb of death, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live (John 11:25).

Sadly, mankind will continue to face fatalities due to such things as faulty space heaters and apartment doors that are designed to close in case of fire. Remember, the world is broken. Man cannot produce a perfect environment because we are imperfect creatures due to our sin. But there is hope! For where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through righteousness leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord (Romans 5:20b-21). The answer is the perfect Son of God (John 3:16-17; Ephesians 2:1-10).

Yes, there is immense pain and suffering in this world, and Jesus experienced it all (Isaiah 53; Hebrews 4:14-16). He bore the sin of the whole world, yours and mine (2 Corinthians 5:21), and He rose from the tomb to conquer sin and death (Matthew 28:1-10; Acts 2:24; Revelation 1:18). God wants you to have the security and assurance of eternity in His presence in Heaven (John 14:1-6).

My heart ached as I read Bob Saget’s statement about the afterlife. My friend, you can absolutely know where you are going. You do not need to hope that “things will work out by Betty’s design — in the afterlife.” You must not “happily defer to Betty on this.”

This sinful, broken world won’t always be this way. Please take time to read the scripture passages given above. There is eternal hope (confident expectation based on the promises of God in His Word); there is eternal assurance all found in the person of Jesus Christ. Please defer to Him!

Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.” (Revelation 21:1-4)

And He Died

As I stood there and watched the casket being transported up the cemetery road, my heart grieved along with everyone else. Words like “tragic,” “too young to die,” “not at Christmas,” “painful,” “just broken,” and “world is rocked” were used to describe the passing of a young man loved by so many.

As I read Genesis 5 yesterday morning, what I witnessed two days ago came back to mind. This chapter in Genesis records the first genealogy in Scripture, the family of Adam. Ten generations are mentioned from Adam to Noah. One thing that stands out is the length of life during that time. Adam lived 930 years, Seth live 912 years, Enosh lived 905 years, and as you might know, Methuselah lived a total of 969 years.

What really captured my attention was not the length of years these folks walked on this earth but a statement that is given eight times, “and he died” (5:5, 8, 11, 14, 17, 20, 27, 31).

Death. We really don’t want to talk about it. We laugh and make jokes about it to some degree to try and erase the reality of it. In our minds, we think we are going to live to be 912 years old. In comparison to eternity, whether we live one year or 969 years, we all die in “infancy.”

The most important part about life here is to be prepared to die. Hebrews 9:27 reminds us that man is destined to die one time. There is a 100% death rate. So, truth is, you are not ready to really live here until you are prepared to die.

Death is cold, harsh, difficult, often sudden, final, and due to the fall of man (Genesis 3).

Indeed, each our names are in some genealogy and could be followed with the words, “and he died.” But friend, just as much as that phrase has a note finality to it, there is life after death.

John 14:1-3, Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.

John 3:16, For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

John 11:25, Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.

Revelation 21:1-4, Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. 2 Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. 4 And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

For each one of us who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ alone for eternal salvation, that phrase could read, “and he died, yet he lives today in heaven.” (https://ptv.org/devotional/where-do-christians-go-when-they-die/)

For each one who rejects the Lord Jesus Christ as the only way to heaven, the phrase could read, “and he died, yet he lives today in hades.” (https://ptv.org/devotional/where-do-unbelievers-go-when-they-die/)

For everyone of us, the pain of death will either be exchanged for the glories of heaven or will continue on into the torments of hell.

What will follow for you after the words, “and he died”?

For this now broken-hearted, grieving family, a wonderful, sweet reunion awaits in heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

2021 In Review

Many years ago I started the habit of keeping a daily journal. This has practice has given back over and over again in my life. As I reread the entries from the week or month or even perusing through another year’s journal, the reminders of God’s faithfulness, love, teaching, wisdom, care, guidance, provision, and grace abound! There’s also the reminders of joy, sorrow, fun, heartache, ups and downs, the general stuff of life and the moments you don’t want to forget.

With that said, I end this year looking back through my journal to share some of life’s lessons and blessings with you.

  1. Celebrated 40 years of marriage in June with my sweetheart, best friend, and companion. We have done something special on the 2oth of every month since we were married on June 20. Wrote 40 blessings of being married for 40 years.
  2. Celebrated 20 years of ministry at Boones Creek Bible Church via the gift of a month long sabbatical from our church family.
  3. Statements throughout my journal: “By grace, give and live abundantly in Christ today!!” “Nothing is impossible with God!” “God uses weak men.” “What we think of God and believe of Him determines how we view all of life.” “The believer in life should love life.” “Jesus is enough.” “Do we just possess the Word or do we practice the Word?” “The key to understanding the Bible is to see Jesus Christ on every page.” “Just another typical day in the life of a child of God.” “Victims become victors and the condemned become conquerors through Christ alone!” “God puts His people in the right place at the right time to accomplish His righteous work.”
  4. The joy of preaching through 1 John, 2 John, 3 John, Jude and Hebrews on Sunday morning!
  5. Family gatherings: Celebrating our 40th anniversary, Pigeon Forge, Thanksgiving and Christmas, to mention a few!
  6. Answered prayer, answered prayer, answered prayer, answered prayer, answered prayer . . . .
  7. Many Thursday entries about the blessings of our small group meeting in our home as we sang, prayed, studied the Word, shared, watch God answer prayer, gathered around the bar counter enjoying fellowship, watching discipleship take place, etc.!!
  8. “Denise had Shiloh here for the morning and lunch and Shepherd here for the afternoon. . . . Alli and the boys came for an afternoon visit. . . . Shepherd went with me to return tables to the church. . . . After running with Andrew, I picked up Shepherd and Shiloh for a DD run and then Dollar Tree for a toy before leaving for camp. . . . Enjoyed watching football with Shepherd. . . . Went to the boys’ home to see them open up birthday gifts—so much fun! . . . . Shepherd and Shiloh stayed overnight with us.” (Do you get it????)
  9. “Although the Utah Missions trip was officially called off today, Andrew reported that all money was refunded! Praise the Lord for directing him to secure Covid insurance for this trip. The teens are learning from this major change in their plans.”
  10. “Grace to preach Hebrews 2:14-18. Wonderful time of worship through communion. Watching our folks worship is such a joy! Congregational singing: Because He Lives, By Faith, O Lord My Rock & My Redeemer, His Mercy is More!”
  11. “Blessing: Received a text from ________________________ saying they were coming through town and wanted to catch up with us! So good to see these dear friends again!” This was a common occurrence through the year!
  12. “After enjoying ice cream cake for Paul’s 41st birthday, they shared their big announcement—-the Lord has led them to foster to adopt! Wow!! Another answer to prayer in the way the Lord would have it, not our way or thoughts!”
  13. “Music on the Square, good times with Denise!” “Denise and I left for Carter Fold to hear Carson Peters & Iron Mountain. Packed house, good concert, great to be back at the Fold. So wholesome, family-oriented, great time to be with Denise!”
  14. “Ran the Tweetsie Trail—beautiful day!” “AT Spivey Gap to High Rocks; Rick & me; snow 6 inches to 2 feet!” “AT Cherokee Flats south to Pearisburg, VA; 22 miles; camped out on Peter’s Mt; Rick & me.”
  15. Read Deep Discipleship (English); The Faith of Christopher Hitchens (Taunton); Calvary Road (Hessions); How to Worship Christ (Carroll); On Pastoring (Charles) and others.
  16. “Tested positive for covid today.”

As 2021 closes, this scripture passage and song encapsulates my year.

Psalm 18:30 – As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the Lord proves true; He is a shield for all those who take refuge in Him.

Thank you for reading! More than anything, I trust that the Lord Jesus Christ is your personal Lord and Savior; that you are follower of Christ; that you are secure in Christ for all eternity (John 1:12; 3:16; Ephesians 1:1-2:10; Titus 3:5). If not, please watch the video link in the sidebar above.

Dale

In the School Of COVID

“Sometimes we have to experience misunderstanding from unsympathetic friends in order to learn how to minister to others.” These were part of Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on Job 16:4, that resonated in my heart.

Seated by the fireplace reading, grounded again for the third Sunday in a row due to COVID, I found myself replacing the words “unsympathetic friends” with “COVID.”

“Sometimes we have to experience COVID in order to learn how to minister to others.”

How blessed I have been to be healthy for over two years with no colds and only my typical back issues. I’ve been hiking, running, navigating ministry through the pandemic, on and on and on! Then . . . everything changed in one day. Symptoms which led to a positive test, feeling miserable, infusion, recuperation.

What did I need to learn again? I needed a fresh reminder of what it looks like to be a minister of mercy/compassion just like Jesus as demonstrated in the parable of the Good Samaritan. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii[c] and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ (Luke 10:34-35).

What does that look like? Well, here are some thoughts, in random order, that I jotted in my journal to remind me in the days to come.

  • Life changes so quickly . . . live in the moment. That may be all that’s left here. (James 4:14-15).
  • If the Lord nudges you to minister to someone, go. (Luke 10:34)
  • There are times when you are feeling so bad you do not have the energy to pray beyond, “Lord, help me!” If you are strong physically and spiritually, be sure to pray for those who are weak and weary. They need your intercession (James 5:16). Perhaps, call them . . . not to chit-chat but to simply say, “I want to pray with you, and then I’ll end the call.”
  • Ask the Lord to give you wisdom as to something beyond “If you need anything, call me!” 99% won’t call (I’m usually one of those); don’t want to be a bother or an inconvenience. Here are a few acts of service that I was blessed to receive recently: 1) Bring a meal. 2) Send a text saying, “I’m out at the store. What can I bring you?” or “I’m at Dunkin. Want a donut and coffee?” 3) Do some project around the yard or house. It was a refreshment to hear the lawn mower crank up in the front yard. 4) Drop by with some cookies/snacks or leave something in the mailbox or on the front porch.
  • Having said that, accept other’s offers to minister to you. The other night a meal was brought to our front door. Before departing, the gentleman said, “It sure feels good to be on this side of the door” (the giving side).
  • Send a text every other day or so. Sometimes the one who is suffering may not have the strength to read it and respond, but don’t be afraid to reach out, either. Perhaps a card of encouragement in the mail.
  • Store up the Word of God in your mind for times like these, when you’re too sick to read or listen to anything.
  • Consider the caregiver. He/she has picked up the ball for two people all the while serving the ill. They need encouragement and help, too.

How blessed to have a wonderful wife, our dear immediate family and loved ones, close friends, and our precious church family!! Most of all, oh, the goodness of God in the midst of stuff like COVID!

Yes, “sometimes we have to experience “COVID” in order to learn how to minister to others.” Thank You, Lord, for being patient with me and teaching me again to be moved with compassion.

The Season That Stole Christmas

The lights went out on the top and the bottom this year!!

There I sat with my car backed into the parking lot at Target in observation mode. Still in quarantine, my wife made her trek into Target to purchase a gift.

What did I observe? A steady of stream of shoppers entering and exiting their cars and the stores with sad, frowning, hardened faces. Some were walking briskly, some on a mission, others at a snail’s pace. And, what season of the year is this?

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year!”—Go ahead; sing it! You are hearing it in your head anyway!

It’s the celebration of good news of great joy that will be for all the people (Luke 2:11)!

Isn’t Christmas all about joy, cheer, good news, giving, laughter, family traditions, get-togethers, etc.?

As I watched, my finite mind could not fathom all the stories in front of me in this “season of joy.” Perhaps sudden job loss, death of a dear loved one, disappointment in not finding the right gift, the general frustrations of life, cancer diagnosis, home life issues, heart-crushing memories, failing marriages, brokenness, fear, rejection, dread, chaos, thoughts of suicide, sorrow, discontentment, etc.

In the midst of these stories of life, many hoping that this season might bring a little good news, a little cheer, a little “Tender Tennessee Christmas” to take off the edge of the pain, my mind considered my own current “covidness” and was once again reminded that this season is only a mere shadow of the Realty. If my heart is fixed on all the ingredients of the season, I miss the preeminent, transcendent Person of this day, this season, this year, and this life. At that point, I have fallen into idolatry; worshiping the creature (and what the creature creates here) more than the Creator (Romans 1:18-25).

You see, the only Story that can completely deal with the root cause of all “the fears of all the years,” which began in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3), is the Reality of the living Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who stepped into your life to be your substitute on the cross (Isaiah 53:3-5; 1 Peter 3:18). Life is the Eternal Story, not a temporal season.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. 6 In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. 8 Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, 9 obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. (1 Peter 1:3-9 ESV).

Today, tomorrow, on Christmas Day, and the days to follow, listen to and meditate on the Story of hope and redemption, the salvation of your souls, in exchange for the shadows of the season. No matter how good they may be for now, they are only shadows.

Don’t let the season steal what Jesus came to give and restore!

I came that they may have life and have it abundantly (John 10:10).

Additional links for your encouragement today:

21 Days of Prayer (Day #13)

PRAYER & TRIALS (Hunter Addison)

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. 7 For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (James 1:2-8)

All of us are probably going through a trial of some type right now. If you are not, count on one coming your way tomorrow. It is the reality of living in a fallen world. However, James teaches us that God is not absent in our trials. In fact, God is doing something through them. We can see what God is doing through our trials in verses three and four. God is producing patience, endurance in us in order that we may be perfect and complete, that is mature in Christ. Maturing in Christ is the reason why we can count it all joy when we face trials. It’s not because the trial is fun or pleasant. It is because through the trial God is transforming us more and more into the likeness of Christ. The word for count in the text is an imperative, which simply means that it is a command. Therefore, joy in trials is dependent upon our response. We have the option to obey or disobey the command to count it all joy when you fall into various trials. We disobey the command when our joy is found in our circumstances. We obey the command when our joy is found in God and his purposes for our lives, which is transforming us more and more into the image of Christ (Romans 8:29; 1 Thessalonians 4:3). Do we really believe that the greatest joy of our lives is to be more like Christ? To be more patient, kind, loving, gentle, self-controlled, to bridle our tongues, to be slow to speak, quick to listen, to count others more significant than ourselves, to live with our wives in an understanding way, to mature? James is teaching us that we can become victors full of joy in our trials instead of victims full of bitterness, doubt, and discouragement. Trials refine our faith by showing us where we are truly seeking joy, by showing us who/what we are trusting in.

With this understanding of trials in our life, let’s look at another imperative in the text, that is another command. In verse five let him ask is a command. What does this teach us? It shows that if we are to live triumphantly in our trials, we need to ask God for something specific, that is wisdom. Once again, this is a command that has the potential to be disobeyed. Perhaps our disobedience to this command may be the reason why we lack joy in our trials. Disobedience to this command may be the reason why we mature in age but not in Christ. What do we ask God for during our trials? We must be careful here. It is not wrong to ask God for strength, help, and deliverance from trials, just read the Psalms. However, if that is all we are praying for in trials then I think James teaches us that we are missing something very important. James only speaks, in this context, about asking God for wisdom.

Biblical wisdom is not the same thing as what we often think of when we speak of wisdom. We often think of wisdom as knowledge, insight, or perception. We say things like that was a “wise decision” and that statement is typically the same as saying that was a “smart decision.” Often, we link wisdom to intellectual knowledge or insight alone. Biblical wisdom however is focused on the application of a certain type of knowledge to all of life, knowledge of God. Not just intellectual knowledge of God but a personal, relational knowledge of God. This is communicated by the phrase “fear of God”, as it is specifically linked to wisdom in the book of Proverbs. To fear God is to be rightly related to God, to have an inner since of awe toward God and to live obediently to God. In short, it is to take God seriously. Proverbs teaches us that this “fear of God” is the beginning of wisdom. A good definition of biblical wisdom is how to live in God’s world according to God’s Word. This is what James says God desires to give us in response to our prayers during our trials. God wants to show us how we can take our personal knowledge of him and apply it to the situations of our lives. We should think about this as coming to God in our trials saying, “God, I do not want to miss what you want to teach me in this trial.” This prayer is a request, an invitation, for God to get extremely personal with us. It is a request for God to invade the particular details of our lives with conviction and transformative grace in order to mature us into Christ. This is where true joy is found. This is the how we can become victors living triumphantly in the midst of trials.

Trials are like a classroom. God is the teacher. We are the students. The lesson is whatever trial we are facing. The goal of the lesson is maturity into the likeness of Christ. And the way we approach the teacher, is through humble, trusting prayer asking for wisdom. When the bell rings and we walk out of the classroom, we are full of Joy because the teacher delights in showing us how to live in his world according to his Word by answering our prayers for wisdom.

Would you join one another in asking God for wisdom in your trials? “God show me what you want to teach me in this trial.” “God increase my joy by increasing my skill in living a Godly life.”

Finally, James tells us we must believe that God will do this. God will invade our lives with clear answers. When we seek wisdom, we are not mainly seeking knowledge. We are seeking for God to personally show us how to faithfully live in his world according to his Word. God promises to do this “liberally.”

Heart Counsel

We need this for our hearts today! Soak your soul in the Truth!

“Praise the LORD! Blessed is the man who fears the LORD, Who delights greatly in His commandments. His descendants will be mighty on earth; The generation of the upright will be blessed. Wealth and riches will be in his house, And his righteousness endures forever. Unto the upright there arises light in the darkness; He is gracious, and full of compassion, and righteous. A good man deals graciously and lends; He will guide his affairs with discretion. Surely he will never be shaken; The righteous will be in everlasting remembrance. He will not be afraid of evil tidings; His heart is steadfast, trusting in the LORD. His heart is established; He will not be afraid, Until he sees his desire upon his enemies. He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever; His horn will be exalted with honor. The wicked will see it and be grieved; He will gnash his teeth and melt away; The desire of the wicked shall perish.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭112:1-10‬ ‭

The Utmost Need of the Hour

This evening, our church family will gather via Zoom to seek the Lord’s face on behalf of those affected by COVID-19 and for protection from the same.

What do you do when life is out of control? Who do you call when you have no answers? Where do you find wisdom that is sure, consistent, and always relevant?

Psalm 86 manifests the answers. Sometime today, read this passage. Read a line or two, then stop and meditate on it. Let the Holy Spirit speak to you. Soak it in. Speak the Word audibly in prayer. Pray with all your heart. Pray desperately, honestly, full of faith.

We must turn from letting COVID dominate our thoughts to crying out to the One Who is transcendent, omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

Bow down Your ear, O Lord, hear me;
For I am poor and needy.
2 Preserve my life, for I am holy;
You are my God;
Save Your servant who trusts in You!
3 Be merciful to me, O Lord,
For I cry to You all day long.
4 Rejoice the soul of Your servant,
For to You, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
5 For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive,
And abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.

6 Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer;
And attend to the voice of my supplications.
7 In the day of my trouble I will call upon You,
For You will answer me.

8 Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord;
Nor are there any works like Your works.
9 All nations whom You have made
Shall come and worship before You, O Lord,
And shall glorify Your name.
10 For You are great, and do wondrous things;
You alone are God.

11 Teach me Your way, O Lord;
I will walk in Your truth;
Unite my heart to fear Your name.
12 I will praise You, O Lord my God, with all my heart,
And I will glorify Your name forevermore.
13 For great is Your mercy toward me,
And You have delivered my soul from the depths of Sheol.

14 O God, the proud have risen against me,
And a mob of violent men have sought my life,
And have not set You before them.
15 But You, O Lord, are a God full of compassion, and gracious,
Longsuffering and abundant in mercy and truth.

16 Oh, turn to me, and have mercy on me!
Give Your strength to Your servant,
And save the son of Your maidservant.
17 Show me a sign for good,
That those who hate me may see it and be ashamed,
Because You, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Prayer is the utmost need of the hour individually, as a family and corporately as the body of Christ!

How I Began 2021

Sober, silent, sane and secure.

After a good night’s rest, I awoke to 43 degrees and rain. Made the bed and took care of Liza Jane. Then it was time for the morning meeting at the coffee pot. Love the anticipation of that first cup each morning! Glad I was sober and didn’t need it to deal with a hangover due to senseless, undisciplined revelry that included alcohol.

From there, it was time for the best part of the morning . . . the blessing of meeting with the Lord in His Word. Add to that the beginning of a new, yearly journal.

As I read the Word in the silence, Psalm 99 awakened the stillness in my heart with an absolute truth, The LORD reigns (99:1). I paused and let the Holy Spirit speak to me.

That’s it! If I am to have a sane response to all that 2021 will afford, I must live in the truth that The LORD reigns, let the peoples tremble! For all of us who are born again believers in Christ, we do not tremble. We dwell securely in the secret place, in the presence of the LORD Almighty (Psalm 91:1).

How did 2021 begin for me? Sober, silent, sane and secure.