(Written a few years back. I decided to leave it intact and post it as is.)
“Jesus therefore, being wearied from His journey, sat down by the well….” (John 4:6).
Jesus grew tired, so don’t be surprised if you do, too.
Jesus needed rest and wanted a little solitude, and you and I are no different.
Give yourself permission to be human, friend.
As for me, it’s Monday night and I’m tired.
How did I get this way?
Bob is the pastor of a small church in another state. He told me this story.
As a layman he was put on the search committee to seek the next preacher. Then, they elected him chairman of the team. Soon he began to gather information to present to prospective pastors.
“What is our salary package?” he asked the church treasurer.
The old gentleman had controlled the purse strings for that little congregation for several years. He said to Bob, “We don’t want a preacher who thinks about those things. He should settle with the Lord if He’s calling him here, and come no matter what it pays.”
Bob said, “I don’t think so. The laborer is worthy of his hire, Scripture says.”
Because Bob wanted to do this right, he insisted that the church pay an adequate salary with benefits. And did what was necessary to put it together into an acceptable form.
And then, something interesting happened.
The angel of the Lord opened the prison doors and brought them forth, and said, ‘Go, stand and speak in the temple to the people all the words of this life” (Acts 5:20).
Go. Stand. Speak.
Preach the Word. Preach “all the words.” Preach the Word as the Lord leads.
A denominational website reprinted an article of ours. Most readers were appreciative but one guy left a comment instructing me on what to preach.
“You ought to be preaching on racism,” he said. “The churches are full of it.”
He came back later with a post script. “After the church shooting in South Carolina, the sale of Confederate flags and guns went through the roof. Yet the churches were silent. This is sinful.”
Interesting. He says the churches are full of racism and silent on the subject. You wonder how he knows this.
“Why not rather be wronged?” (I Corinthians 6:7)
Ask any pastor.
We hear it all the time. Variations on this theme are endless…
–“All these years we have belonged to this church and given our money to support these preachers, and now when we need him, he’s in Israel on a holy land tour!”
–“I went by the church. I needed to see the preacher then, not the next day. And you’re not going to believe this, but he was on his way out the door, headed to his son’s little league game! And me a member of his flock. What kind of preachers are we getting these days?”
–“The preacher needs to apologize to me for what he implied in that sermon on Sunday. I know he was talking about me, even though he used someone else’s name.”
And one that happened in my last pastorate…
“I have spoken openly to the world. I always taught in synagogues and in the temple, where all the Jews come together. I spoke nothing in secret” (John 18:20).
Something happened the other day to remind me of why, as a young teen, I hated the typical television sitcom. I could never say “I Love Lucy.” And here’s why.
I was listening to the replay of a 1950’s radio program “The Life of Riley.” William Bendix’ character, the husband and father of the Riley household and namesake of the program, was a bumbling, stumbling embarrassment to the males in the audience, always jumping to conclusions and misunderstanding what the normal people around him were up to. He needed a good whupping, I always thought. As a nine-year-old as well as today, that kind of program is really hard to listen to.
“In the world you will have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
We were expecting hostility from the world. But certainly not from the Lord’s people.
Church is where we get blindsided.
The Lord wanted His people to know what to expect. The road ahead would be rough. They should prepare for turbulence.
The Lord would not be bringing His children around the storms but through them. We will not miss out on the tempest, but will ride it out with Jesus in our boat, sometimes standing at the helm and at other times, seemingly asleep and unconcerned.
The lengthy passage of Matthew 10:16-42 is the holy grail on this subject, as the Lord instructs His children on what lies ahead and what to expect. His disciples should expect to encounter opposition, persecution, slander, defamation, and for some, even death. So, when it comes–as it does daily to millions of His children throughout the world–no one can say they weren’t warned.
But what about the church? Should we expect opposition and persecution there also?
In the morning, O Lord, I will direct my song and my prayer unto You and will look up. (Psalm 5:3)
I love You, my Lord.
I love You as much as I’m capable of. If I were You, I would not be satisfied with that. I would grow weary of watching me stumble and hearing me confess and repent for the zillionth time.
And yet, You are patient. Steadfast. Forgiving to the ultimate, loving beyond anything that I imagine or ask.
How can I begin to comprehend Thy love and faithfulness?
Help me, Father.
“And we urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with all men” (I Thessalonians 5:14).
At the funeral, as at every other place where you rise to serve the Lord, preacher, tell the truth.
The gospel truth.
You have an obligation to comfort the bereaved, true. But you have an even greater duty to obey your Lord by declaring the whole counsel of God.
The Holy Spirit can guide you on how to do both; the flesh doesn’t have a clue and will lean to one extreme or the other.
My pastor friend R. J. did something rather bold the other day.
No one ever told Superman, “You be strong now.” Strong was his middle name.
No one ever told Adrian Rogers, “Preach a good sermon now.” They never told Warren Wiersbe to “Give us a good Bible study.” It was what they did.
Words such as “Be strong” and “Be courageous” were given to the weak, the hesitant, the young.
Take the words “Be strong and of good courage.” Moses told Israel to do that in Deuteronomy 31:6. One verse later, Moses told Joshua to “be strong and of good courage.” Same chapter, verse 23, Moses commissioned Joshua to lead God’s people and said to him, “Be strong and of good courage.”
Are you with me now? Then, get this…